AT&T Questions Connecticut Agency On U-verse Ruling

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AT&T filed a motion Monday with Connecticut’s Department of Public Utility Control seeking “clarification” on certain details of the agency’s ruling that the telco must obtain consent retroactively from property owners living next to U-verse equipment installed on rights of way.

“AT&T will comply with the department’s requirements going forward,” AT&T Connecticut president Ramona Carlow. said in a prepared statement.

“Some aspects of the department’s ruling, however, are unclear and, based on media reports last week, are being interpreted by some in a way that could impede AT&T’s ability to continue to roll out U-verse video service to consumers across Connecticut.”

In its five-page May 27 ruling, the DPUC disagreed with AT&T’s argument that the telco has permission to place video-distribution equipment on rights of way without the permission of abutting homeowners and municipalities. The DPUC’s decision said Connecticut law allows equipment upgrades on rights of way without public consent only when the new facilities are not larger than the existing ones.

AT&T on Monday continued to assert that it does not need to secure additional permission for installing the video-ready access devices (V-RADs), 63-inch-high cabinets that are used to deliver programming over the IPTV network.

“There’s some language in [the May 27 decision] suggesting that the DPUC wants to share that authority [over right-of-way jurisdiction] with local municipalities,” AT&T spokesman David Mancuso said.

AT&T claimed it already notifies property owners, by letter, of plans to install equipment cabinets in public rights-of-way abutting their property. The telco is seeking to clarify what the scope of the DPUC’s requirement for renotifying those residents and municipalities would be.

The DPUC is also requiring AT&T to more specifically describe the V-RADs. Mancuso said the company will be “describing our equipment more broadly” in future notifications.

In Connecticut, the cities of Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury initiated the action with the DPUC, complaining about the size and location of AT&T V-RAD boxes and that they “compromised” safe and reasonable use of some roads or sidewalks.

Besides their size -- they’ve been nicknamed “lawn fridges” by critics -- the V-RADs have

on occasion caught fire

from defects in the batteries included for backup power. 

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