fccThe FCC today adopted rules aimed at streamlining broadband network operators’ ability to connect equipment to utility poles. The FCC one-touch make-ready rules have been the subject of considerable controversy, and in their comments about the decision, FCC commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Jessica Rosenworcel expressed opposing views on some of the controversial aspects of the decision.

Key aspects of the one-touch make-ready rules adopted today:

  • “New attachers” will be allowed to move existing attachments and perform all other work required to make the pole ready for “simple” installations. According to an FCC press release, this approach will allow “the party with the strongest incentive – the new attacher – to prepare the pole quickly, rather than spreading the work across multiple parties.”
  • Declares that the FCC will preempt, on a case-by-case basis, state and local laws that inhibit the rebuilding or restoration of broadband infrastructure after a disaster.
  • Prohibits blanket state and local moratoria on telecommunications services and facilities deployment.
  • Eliminates disparities between the rates that incumbent network operators must pay in comparison with similar cable and telecom attachers.

FCC One-Touch Make-Ready Controversy
“No moratoria, no moratoria, no moratoria,” said FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly at today’s monthly FCC meeting, where the one-touch make-ready rules were adopted.

O’Rielly accused some municipalities of essentially committing “extortion” in the fees demanded of network operators for pole attachments. O’Rielly also suggested the new laws might impact digital inclusion programs that he said can “create political slush funds” that raise costs for consumers.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel cautioned against the FCC assuming it knows more than local communities do. She pointed to the example of Myrtle Beach, S.C., where network operators are prevented from digging up streets during hurricane season. That moratorium, she said, was “informed by . . . public safety” and is “reasonably related to police powers.”

The FCC, she said, should balance the needs of network operators with local realities.

She also argued that the definition of what constitutes a “simple” pole attachment was not clear enough and will lead to litigation. Additionally, she said the new rules threaten network operators’ existing contracts with union employees.

Despite these concerns, Rosenworcel approved of the item in part, while also dissenting in part. The other three commissioners voted in favor of the item.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the majority of commenters about the proposed FCC one-touch make-ready laws were in favor of the actions that the FCC has taken.

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2 thoughts on “Amid Heated Debate, FCC Adopts One-Touch Make-Ready Rules

  1. Let's ask PG&E what it thinks about 'new attachers' going out and doing all the work on their poles including moving existing attachments. Especially in CA, where the utility is already under fire for problems with unsafe poles where the only responsible party is PG&E itself. Why bother with a Joint Pole committee or association if 'the new attacher' is defining what constitutes a simple installation? Are we actually willing to trade off safety for convenience?
    Probably, and I pray there are no consequences, but if there are, will the FCC accept responsibility for making this decision?

    1. The utility is notified after installation is complete and the OTMR has been performed, and they will perform a post inspection of the work executed by a new attacher. Although there may be times the end result is unsafe and unacceptable to the utility (and the standards of the NESC/RUS), when this occurs, the utility will instruct the new attacher to rectify the situation (just like they would if an existing attacher did not relocate their facilities properly, which is how things work today). The contractors performing the construction must also be approved by the utility, so they have some control here. To me, bottom line, as long as PG&E does a solid post inspection as they should already be doing today, this should not be a significant issue and will help increase competition between carriers, driving internet costs down and improving deployment speeds! Faster internet deployed faster for lower costs. I can certainly see how it can look a little unsafe on paper though, but with all the facts laid out, I think you'll see this is a good thing. Good question though!

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