Kansas Utility Must Boost Pole Access


Washington -- Kansas City Power & Light must make it
possible for Time Warner Cable to use its utility poles in Overland Park, Kan., according
to a ruling by the Federal Communications Commission last week.

Time Warner filed a complaint with the FCC in May alleging
denial of access to poles owned by KCPL and requesting that the commission order KCPL to
approve all of Time Warner's pending applications for attachment to the poles.

Although KCPL had not specifically denied Time Warner
access, the FCC found that the utility company made it difficult for the company to use
the poles by not performing necessary upgrades, which Time Warner paid for, soon enough.

"Time is of the essence on access matters, and
dilatory cooperation is as effective as denial," stated the ruling, dated July 15.

The dispute is rooted in an agreement reached last fall,
when KCPL said Time Warner could use the poles as long as the cable company agreed to pay
for any necessary upgrades or new poles. Time Warner needed the poles so that it could
upgrade its telecommunications services in the Overland Park area.

According to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, utilities
must provide telecommunications carriers with access to any pole unless there is
insufficient capacity for the additional access or it would create a safety hazard.

KCPL's contractor, Capital Electric, determined that with
Time Warner's intended attachments, the poles would fail to meet National Electrical
Safety Code guidelines for wind and ice-loading conditions. Therefore, KCPL asked Time
Warner to pay $556,275 to cover the estimated costs of new poles and pole attachments.

Although Time Warner sent KCPL the money in April and asked
the utility to begin the upgrade process, KCPL disputed whether or not it should be held
responsible for the new poles, and it hired consulting engineers to investigate the

The engineers determined that many of the poles could
either meet NESC guidelines or were already in need of replacement before the addition of
the attachments.

They surveyed 347 of the poles that KCPL said needed to be
replaced. The cable company's engineers found that 152 of those poles should be paid for
by KCPL, and not by Time Warner.

But since sending the check, Time Warner was never notified
that the work on the poles had commenced, which led it to file the complaint with the FCC.

KCPL tried to counter this by filing its own complaint with
the FCC alleging that Time Warner's practices regarding notice and application for
attachments were unjust and unreasonable. But the FCC dismissed that complaint.

The FCC ordered KCPL to start work on the upgrades for the
Time Warner pole attachments within seven days of the ruling.

States News Service