Cable Ops Push for Codified Overlashing Rules

Say overlaying new plant without having to seek permission key to fiber buildouts

Cable operators want to ensure that the FCC makes rules allowing "overlashing" part of its overall plan to speed the deployment of broadband to all Americans.

Overlashing is the practice of attaching new plant (say fiber) to the existing plant on utility poles when that plant has already been approved by the pole owner.

Related: Pole Attachment Delays Mar Broadband Infrastructure Rollouts

In comments to the FCC on its proposal to accelerate wireline broadband deployment, by means including removing barriers and codifying the agency's precedent of allowing overlashing without having to ask permission, the American Cable Association said one of those barriers is utilities charging for piggybacking on existing plant or making its members jump through various hoops.

"For decades, the Commission has determined that overlashing does not require a pole attachment application or a utility’s permission or consent, and that overlashing consistent with generally accepted engineering practices should not incur any additional charge," the ACA said.

But the ACA said its members' experience has been that "some utilities require full attachment applications or impose other requirements that delay or stymie overlashing entirely."

Related: FCC Takes 'Historic' Pole Position

The group said clear overlashing rules would help spur broadband deployment. NCTA-The Internet & Television Association was on the same page.

"Overlashing is often the most efficient way for a cable operator to increase the capability of its network and serve customers through the addition of fiber," NCTA told the FCC in its comments this week, saying overlashing is key to fiber buildouts and that prohibiting seeking prior approval for overlashing is "a critical element of the regulatory foundation on which hundreds of billions of dollars of new investment have been made."

Not surprisingly, utility companies were on a different page.

"UTC urges the FCC not to codify a rule that would restrict utilities from requiring third party attaching entities to provide advance notice of overlashing," said the Utilities Technology Council. "[W]e are concerned that codifying a per se rule that only provides utilities notice-after-the-fact for all types of overlashing and subject only to general engineering standards is too broad and would threaten to undermine the safety, reliability and security of utility infrastructure."