Cable One Battles Pole Rates

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Cable One Inc. wants to pay an Idaho utility cable rates for pole
attachments, but the company -- Idaho Power Co. -- wants the MSO to pay
telecommunications rates. The spat will be resolved by the state Public
Utilities Commission.

Idaho regulators will launch a rulemaking to set the attachment formula for
all users, not just cable operators.

State intervention means that the resolution will affect not just Cable One
-- the state's largest operator -- but also Adelphia Communications Corp. The
two MSOs distribute cable to about 90 percent of Idaho households.

Operators argued that they shouldn't have to pay telecommunications rates, as
no cable companies in Iowa sell phone service, Idaho Cable Telecommunications
Association executive director Ron Williams said.

Cable One and Idaho Power have attempted to negotiate a rate for one year, so
the dispute predates this year's U.S. Supreme Court decision that defined
Internet-service delivery for the purpose of setting pole-attachment rates.

The court directed the Federal Communications Commission to take authority on
the issue, but it ruled that data delivery is an interstate information
service.

Williams said the Idaho dispute will be resolved by observing state statutes,
but he added that the Supreme Court ruling 'provides great guidance.'

Cable One currently pays $4 per pole, per year. Citing a 1984 state case that
involved another utility and a different cable company, Cable One argued for a
formula that justifies a $3.40 rate.

But the power company asserted that the 1984 decision does not create an
FCC-certified formula for rates, Williams said. Idaho Power also argued that the
1984 decision does not apply here. It demanded that the operator pay $9.92 per
pole, per year.

The state PUC will schedule workshops to be attended by Cable One, Adelphia,
Cox Communications Inc. and some independent operators, as well as three
electric utilities and the phone companies.

'That format should lend itself to a multiparty settlement,' Williams
said.

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