California opens up utility poles to mobile infrastructure companies

4 May 2018 by Steve Blum
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It’s a small change, but one that might speed up mobile broadband deployment in California. Wireline telephone companies can now install pretty much any kind of wireless equipment on utility poles, thanks to a decision by the California Public Utilities Commission.

The primary beneficiary will be mobile infrastructure companies – Crown Castle, Wave, Extenet for example – that build cell sites, large and small, and operate them for licensed mobile carriers, such as AT&T, Verizon and whatever T-Mobile and Sprint eventually become.… More

FCC gets one touch fiber installation advice from industry group

27 January 2018 by Steve Blum
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Proposals for speeding up broadband infrastructure deployment haven’t been posted yet by the Federal Communications Commission. Its industry-led broadband deployment advisory committee wrapped up two days of meetings on Wednesday, with the big news so far being the resignation of San Jose major Sam Licardo, after the FCC allowed AT&T to rewrite draft recommendations that didn’t offer incumbents sufficient protection from the inconvenience of competition.
Thanks to reporting by Mari Silbey at Light Reading, at least we know that the group signed off on a one touch make ready (OTMR) policy…

For any simple pole attachment – i.e.,


California wildfires are everyone's problem, regardless of who's at fault

27 November 2017 by Steve Blum
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The recent wildfires that struck seemingly everywhere all at once, but particularly hard in the northern California wine country, might have been caused, in part, by wind whipped electric lines surrounded by a canopy of dense, dry trees. If that’s what happened, then electric companies, and particularly PG&E, could be liable for billions of dollars worth of damage.
It poses a difficult public policy question: who pays? Ratepayers, shareholders or taxpayers?
Coincidentally, the California Public Utilities Commission is due to decide that question at this week’s meeting, at least in regards to a series of wildfires in San Diego County in 2007.… More

Cities can speed up pole attachments by new ISPs, federal judge rules

18 August 2017 by Steve Blum
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The City of Louisville, Kentucky can impose one touch make ready rules on utility pole owners, and maybe a lot of other cities can too. A U.S. district court judge threw out AT&T’s challenge to Louisville’s pole attachment ordinance on Wednesday (h/t to Ars Technica for finding the ruling). It was passed in 2016 to help clear the way for Google Fiber to begin hanging cables on poles occupied by AT&T in Louisville

Before Louisville passed its ordinance, independent ISPs had to wait for incumbent telecoms companies, like AT&T or Comcast, to move or otherwise readjust their wires to make room for the new guy – in other words do the make ready work on their own stuff.… More

Federal court says cable and telcos can pay the same rate for pole access

2 August 2017 by Steve Blum
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Federal law does not require telephone companies to be treated differently from cable companies, when it comes to attaching cables to utility poles. That’s the ruling of a federal appeals court (h/t to Omar Masry at the City and County of San Francisco for the pointer). It rejected a challenge from electric utilities to a 2015 decision by the Federal Communications Commission that equalised the standard charge for utility pole access, and trimmed back an irrelevant distinction.… More

Competitive pole access, urban streetscapes considered by CPUC

14 March 2017 by Steve Blum
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The California Public Utilities Commission will decide whether wireline telephone companies and other licensed telecommunications companies can attach wireless equipment to utility poles on the same terms as mobile carriers. Responding to a request from the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), a lobbying group for companies that build and own cell towers and similar facilities, CPUC president Michael Picker is proposing to start the process that could eventually grant that permission.

But the questions he wants to ask go beyond the simple technical and legal considerations that go along with the current pole attachment rules, and touch on broader questions of competitive barriers and how much infrastructure is too much, particularly in urban areas…

Although the scope of this proceeding is limited to [licensed telecoms companies’] wireless pole attachments, we will take comment on (1) whether there is sufficient space and load-bearing capacity on the stock of existing utility poles to support additional telecommunications attachments, including wireless pole attachments, that may be necessary to provide ubiquitous, competitive, and affordable telecommunications services; (2) whether the cost of replacing existing poles to support additional telecommunications attachments poses a barrier to entry; and (3) whether urban streetscapes can accommodate more pole attachments, the replacement of existing poles with larger poles, and possibly an increase in the number of poles.


CPUC set to reject cable's bid for wireless privileges

7 February 2017 by Steve Blum
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Decision on the way.

Update: the CPUC unanimously approved the draft decision at its 9 February 2017 meeting.

It’s a bit softer than the total smack down that was originally floated, but the latest draft of a decision that’ll go in front of the California Public Utilities Commission still says that cable companies can’t hang wireless equipment on utility poles with the same carefree abandon as mobile carriers. The reasoning is that the laws that grant cable companies the special privilege to use utility poles and such without having to meet the same standards of service or conduct as telephone companies specifically mention wires, not wireless, and that “if the legislature had intended to provide CATV corporations with a right to attach wireless facilities to utility poles – either by statute or by commission regulations – the legislature would have done so”.… More

Cable's political privileges have practical limits, says CPUC draft

26 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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Some lobbyists don’t let go of old stereotypes.

Cable companies can’t have wireless privileges because they’re cable and not wireless companies. That’s the gist of a proposed decision that’s in front of the California Public Utilities Commission, and the cable industry’s hired gun lobbyists don’t like it.

Last year, the CPUC changed the rules for attaching telecoms equipment to utility poles and allowed mobile carriers and similarly licensed companies to install wireless gear on utility poles, subject to new cost sharing rules and safety regulations.… More

CPUC takes on "last remaining natural monopoly" of pole, conduit ownership

20 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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The California Public Utilities Commission will focus on a particular kind of utility in the coming year. President Michael Picker delivered what amounts to a state-of-the-CPUC address at yesterday’s meeting, the first of the year and the first with the two newest commissioners – Martha Guzman Aceves and Clifford Rechtschaffen – on board and voting.

Picker spoke at length about new energy and environmental initiatives and, particularly, about “an emerging role in building the infrastructure to drive greenhouse gas emissions down in the California economy”.… More

California's telecoms playing field takes a tiny tilt towards level

5 December 2016 by Steve Blum
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It’s all the same.

The California Public Utilities Commission took a small, but significant, step towards treating all telecoms companies the same on Thursday. Cable and telephone companies, mobile carriers and any other communication service provider will now be subject to the same kind of safety enforcement procedures as other public utilities.

The commission [voted to allow enforcement staff to issue citations to any communications company]() that violates the safety rules that govern how utility poles, wires and cables, antennas, cabinets and other infrastructure in the public right of way is installed and maintained.… More