Blame your Internet Lousy on Poles

The war for high-speed access takes place on slats 40 feet high.


(Craig F. Walker / Getty Image)America, we have a problem, and it’s tall, popular and on the side of the road. Those are the poles. Not whether or not the polls track Donald Trump’s progress. Not the Poles exploiting. The utility poles. The columns are the key to our future, because the columns are a key component of high-speed fiber-optic Internet access. The lucky towns that dominated them have been transformed – Chattanooga, for example. As The New York Times took the trumpet earlier this month: “Chattanooga’s Renovation Area brings young entrepreneurs.” Andy Berke, the dynamic mayor of Chattanooga, quoted the money: “What we are creating here is an ecosystem for business growth… We are promoting access to modern broadband. and recruiting skilled entrepreneurs to use it. “

Many mayors are certainly listening and turning to their advisers to ask what their city can do to follow the Chattanooga path. Business development, downtown new energy – what’s not to like? But mayors will eventually have to deal with extremes. Unless a city is confident it can predict – promptly, cheaply, professionally – access scores of 20th century utility columns defiantly with no department at Court Town has found before, the time and cost of the entire city’s fiber business is ridiculously uncertain.

It turned out that Poles were seething with drama. They are creosote-soaked wooden battlefields, 40 feet high. And, right now, a handful of companies – the villains often seen in internet access stories – are very interested in keeping the status quo by silently ensuring that access to pulse areas. This vertical punch has many difficulties.

Chattanooga was, once again, lucky. It has a city-owned electric utility that controls its own poles, so the city can use it to fulfill its fiber dreams. That allows Chattanooga to reap the benefits of about 1 billion dollars in the form of new jobs and other spillover effects the city has seen since 2011.

But many cities do not control their own poles. In some areas, poles are controlled by utility companies, or even telecom companies. Anyone hoping to get fiber in those places faces two horrible, indefinite delays and uncontrollable costs: first, reaching an agreement with the column owner. , and then get the poles ready for a new wire. We will call these steps Swamp one and Swamp two.

Swamp One: Attachment. For the time being, the FCC only provides legal assistance (“power pole rights”) in negotiations with the pole owner to cable TV providers, internet access companies and companies. phone company. FCC assistance in the form of a mandatory deadline and formulation of a billing formula for poles owners.

In fact, the Commission put in place a default rule set, which currently includes about 50 million out of about 130 million columns in the United States, is intended to make the negotiations on the attached agreements go smoothly. . (What happened to the remaining poles? Well, where one state raised their hand and said “We adjusted the pole attachment!” will returnf and leave the default polar attachment rule set state. And municipality-owned electric poles are not subject to FCC rules, because Congress believes the local government will guarantee a reasonable charge.)

But any other actor wanting to help with climbing poles has no levers.

If you don’t have leverage, here’s how your negotiation might work out:

“Hi, I would like to thread the rope to your electric pole. Help a lot for the business ecosystem! Will you sign a contract with me?

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