Texas Operator Wins Pole Dispute


Washington -- A Texas cable operator has won a
pole-attachment dispute with utility company Entergy Corp., according to an order released
by the Federal Communications Commission.

The dispute was over the utility company's assessment
of how many poles Cable Texas Inc. used for attaching its wires.

The two companies have had an agreement since 1992 that
authorized a pole survey to determine pole-rental fees. Cable companies pick up the cost
of these pole surveys. In this case, Cable Texas said, Entergy overcharged it.

Utilities and cable companies that rent space on existing
utility poles can negotiate how much rent should be paid. Cable companies that believe
they are paying too much for pole space can ask the FCC to decide if a fair price is being
charged, if the dispute occurs in a state that does not regulate such matters.

According to the FCC order, adopted April 16 and released
April 21, a 1996 survey completed by a contractor hired by Entergy found that Cable Texas
had attached its wires to 8,930 poles and asked the cable company to pay $31,046.

Cable Texas questioned the bill in a 1997 complaint, asking
whether the count of pole attachments included only those related to the cable
company's equipment, and if the cost of the survey was reasonable.

The FCC sided with Cable Texas, finding that a substantial
increase in the prices of the survey between 1992 and 1996 indicated that some of the work
"done during the pole count was not related to the cable attachments."

The FCC found that Entergy's pole survey was
overpriced, and that the company also overcounted by 570 poles. The agency ordered the
utility company to refund Cable Texas $22,056, plus interest. Cable Texas' request
for reimbursement of attorneys' fees was denied.

States News Service