Pole Fees Trimmed in Michigan


Michigan cable operators should have a little more revenue in their
budgets this year, as the state Public Service Commission approved a Verizon
Communications pole-attachment fee well below what Verizon had been charging.

Verizon was charging $4.95 per pole annually, and it approached the state
utility regulators to raise that rate to $5.14.

At the higher rate, an operator with 5,000 Verizon attachments would pay
approximately $18,500 more for that tariff per year than a similar company with
attachments with SBC Communications Inc.'s Ameritech Corp., which charges $1.48
per pole.

Ameritech has the most poles in the state, at about 500,000. Verizon, No. 2,
has 150,000.

Facing regulatory opposition, Verizon proposed to actually cut its rate to
$1.43, according to Mary Jo Kunkle of the Michigan PSC.

An order setting the rate was issued by the PSC board Jan. 14, and it became
effective Jan. 24. Therefore, it does not appear that Verizon's change of heart
was related to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on pole-attachment rates,
as it predated that ruling.

Verizon spokesman Bill Kula explained that the original
tariff filing sought things such as depreciation costs for the poles. When it
became clear that the PSC disagreed with the formulation, Verizon recalculated and resubmitted, he added.

'The pole rate of $1.43 per pole, per year will help to
encourage the expansion of cable facilities, including cable-modem service, in
Verizon's territory,' Michigan Cable Telecommunications Association executive
director Colleen McNamara said in a prepared statement.