FCC Puts Kibosh On Pole Fee Hike


Cable operators won a pole-attachment victory last Tuesday when the Federal Communications Commission voided a large pole-fee increase demanded by Gulf Power Co. in Florida.

Three years ago, Gulf Power's annual rates ranged between $5 and $6.20 per pole, until the company notified various cable companies in the state that the new rate would rise to $38.06, up 661% from the lowest old rate.

The FCC, which has authority from Congress to regulate pole attachment fees, said in response to complaints filed by cable operators that Gulf Power's increase was unreasonable and could not be imposed.

The FCC ordered Gulf Power and several cable companies, including Cox Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp., to return to the bargaining table and agree on new pole rates consistent with the agency's rate-setting formula.

The FCC also ordered Gulf Power to refund MSOs that paid the $38.06 rate from March 13, 2001 through last Tuesday.