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NCTA On Pole Attachments: The Price Is Right

By: John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

In reply comments filed with the FCC, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association reiterated its arguments for not only not raising cable's pole attachment fee, but lowering everybody else's to cable's rate to help boost the broadband rollout.

NCTA was responding to a pitch by a quartet of utility companies, who want the FCC to issue a declaratory ruling applying the higher telecom rate to cable because cable provides VoIP phone service.

Not only would that penalize past investment, said NCTA, but it would deter future investment, particularly in rural areas. That is just where the FCC is trying to spur broadband deployment as part of its national plan.

NCTA also took issue with an AT&T proposal to have everyone pay some variant of the Telecom rate.

NCTA's answer, to borrow from the game show: Come on down? If all providers were allowed to pay the reduced, cable rate, NCTA says, it would "reduce the costs associated with construction and operation of broadband networks," which would make a better case for broadband investment and keep prices down. The FCC is currently deciding how to classify Voice over Internet Protocal phone service as well as collecting comments on the utility company request for a ruling. Last month, American Electric Power Service Corporation (AEP), Duke Energy Corporation, Southern Company, and Xcel Energy Services asked the FCC to make cable operators pay the telecom rate for pole attachments, rather than the cable rate, which is lower, arguing the higher rate was justified because VOIP is the functional equivalent of traditional phone service.

They say the FCC should make that "clarification" before it takes up any related issues in its broadband notice of inquiry or proposed rulemakings on IP services and pole attachments.


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