Fur Flies in ‘Cat Fight’ Over Pole Access

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Arguments over cable-operator
access to utility poles can make the eyes
glaze over, despite the hundreds of millions
of dollars involved.

Sometimes, though, the driest petitions
have moments to chuckle at, if you paw
through them thoroughly enough.

The background: State cable associations,
cable operators and others want
the government to say the current requirement
that utility companies make their
poles accessible to cable also includes replacing
poles if necessary to accommodate
demand.

Cable operators say that could help the
Federal Communications Commission’s
efforts to boost broadband deployment.

Utility companies disagree, saying cable
is asserting a “right of access to poles
that do not yet exist,” and that the courts
have recognized an exemption from thirdparty
access if existing poles don’t have
enough space.

Filing with Time Warner Cable in support
of the petition, CTIA–The Wireless
Association advised the FCC that “legally,
pole replacement is not the different breed
of cat that the electric utility pole owners
portray.”

At that, the Alliance for Fair Pole Attachment
Rules (an alliance
of utilities) arched its back.
“CTIA’s claim fails to acknowledge
a basic distinction: Section
224 applies only to ‘cats’
owned or controlled by the
electric utility — not to cats
that do not yet exist or are otherwise
not owned or controlled
by the electric utility,” it noted.
“Nor does section 224 provide
for the replacement of existing
cats with new cats.

“CTIA goes beyond cat breeding
into what could be more
accurately described as re-engineering
the feline genetic code
to produce an entirely different
species of animal,” the utility
owners yowled, stretching the
metaphor beyond its ninth life.

Said one vet (as in veteran)
attorney familiar with the regulatory
pole dance: “As a cable
advocate on this issue, I say pole
owners should stop complaining
about That Darn Cat! and
welcome the opportunity to replace
it with, ‘Hello, Kitty!’ ”

Meow!

CableLabs VIPs Head
To Vegas to Haul in
Emmy Hardware

The envelope, please!

CableLabs’ DOCSIS 3.0 high-speed
specification has received a Technology &
Engineering Emmy Award for enabling “the
delivery of television via broadband data
systems.”

It’s the first Emmy won by CableLabs,
which is owned by 43 cable operators. The
Tech Emmys are presented by the New Yorkbased
National Academy of Television Arts
& Sciences, separate from the Left Coast’s
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences,
which hands out the Primetime Emmys.

According to CableLabs, no individuals
are named with the award. Accepting the
Emmy on behalf of the R&D house will be
current CableLabs president and CEO Paul
Liao
and former chief Dick Green. NATAS
will present the 62nd Annual Technology &
Engineering Emmy Awards at the International
Consumer Electronics Show in Las
Vegas on Jan. 6, 2011, with an event in the
Marcello Ballroom at The Venetian Resort
Hotel Casino.

The Wire saw Liao in New
York just before Thanksgiving
and asked him if he was
headed to Sin City for the
event. “I have to go — somebody
has to bring it back
to Denver!” he said with a
laugh.

Among NATAS’s other
Emmy honorees for the
evening, Sony chairman and
CEO Sir Howard Stringer
will receive a Lifetime
Achievement Award in Technology
and Engineering.

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