Cable, telcos use monopoly muscle to block access to California poles

5 October 2016 by Steve Blum
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Barrier to competition.

Google still can’t get access to utility poles in the Bay Area. Whether or not it still wants it is an open question – Google closed its purchase of the wireless Internet service provider side of Webpass this week – but even if it doesn’t, the blocking action by incumbents anxious to protect monopoly markets has caught the attention of California regulators.

The California Public Utilities Commission was told last week that the club that controls pole access – the Northern California Joint Pole Association – has again rejected Google’s requests for membership and permission to use poles.… More

You're not one of us, California cable tells Google

15 March 2016 by Steve Blum
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Not welcome.

Google probably thought its problems getting access to utility poles in California were safely astern. After all, the California Public Utilities Commission declared that Google is a cable company and has the same right as any other cable (or telephone) company to use utility poles. Turns out, other cable operators, via their Sacramento lobbying front, are claiming that Google Fiber isn’t a member of their tribe and shouldn’t be allowed on poles that they jointly control with electric and telephone utilities.… More

Mobile carriers get fixed terms for utility pole access in California

7 February 2016 by Steve Blum
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Lower obstacles for higher poles.

Mobile broadband carriers – i.e. licensed cellular telephone companies – now have the same access to utility poles in California as wireline telephone and cable companies. That’s the result of a unanimous California Public Utilities Commission decision that modified the rules for attaching wireless broadband equipment, including ancillary gear such as power cabinets and back up batteries, to poles

With one exception, the amended ROW Rules provide CMRS carriers with the same access to utility infrastructure as CLECs and CATV corporations.


Sprint says let a thousand poles bloom

26 January 2016 by Steve Blum
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Smaller cells on poles in public right of ways and microwave backhaul are Sprint’s formula for future success, according to media reports (h/t to Omar Masry with the City and County of San Francisco for the pointer).

It’s all about operating costs. Right now, Sprint is paying for capacity on Crown Castle and American Tower-owned, full size macro cell sites. Instead, rumor has it, Sprint will opt for a multitude of cheaper small cells stuck on top of steel and/or wooden poles, planted along public roads and such, and leased from Mobilitie, a Newport Beach-based company.… More

Delay for open access to utility poles by mobile carriers in California

3 December 2015 by Steve Blum
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New rules that would allow mobile broadband companies to install cells and other equipment on utility poles under more or less the same terms and with the same access rights as telephone and cable companies have been delayed until at least next month. The change in policy – essentially giving mobile companies open access to utility poles – was on the California Public Utilities Commission’s agenda this morning, but it was pulled and rescheduled for the 15 January 2016 meeting at the request of commissioner Catherine Sandoval.… More

CPUC considers open access to poles for mobile carriers

1 December 2015 by Steve Blum
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Mobile carriers use a lot of feet on poles, telephone and cable companies use a lot of poles.

Mobile carriers will get more or less the same access to utility poles as currently enjoyed by telephone and cable companies, if the California Public Utilities Commission approves a draft decision that’s scheduled to be on the table at its meeting on Thursday.

That would clear the way for the installation of small cellular access points on utility poles, making it easier for mobile carriers to greatly increase the coverage density of their networks, even down to the several-cells-per-city-block level that’s envisioned for 5G networks over the next five to ten years.… More

FCC eliminates a distinction between telecoms and cable companies

29 November 2015 by Steve Blum
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If you want to build your own broadband network, you need to have access to utility pole routes along the way – not only is it cheaper than installing your own, as a practical matter you’re unlikely, to say the least, to get permission to plant a second row of poles.

Nationally, the rates for pole attachments are set by the Federal Communications Commission. Last week, the FCC lowered the price for telecoms companies to the same rate paid by cable operators.… More

California edges closer to full pole and conduit access for ISPs

8 May 2015 by Steve Blum
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In two separate, unanimous decisions yesterday, the California Public Utilities Commission narrowed the privilege gap between pure Internet service providers and traditional telephone and cable companies, at least concerning access to utility poles, conduits and other facilities and right of ways.

In one decision, the CPUC handed Google Fiber a victory by ruling that a company that has a state franchise to deliver television service over any kind of cable or wire (but not wirelessly) is a “cable television corporation” under California law and can ask for equal access to utility poles…

A state-franchised that transmits television programs by cable to subscribers for a fee is a “cable television corporation” as defined by [California’s public utility laws].


If you're wondering how much it costs to use existing poles and conduit, it's public information

20 July 2014 by Steve Blum
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The most difficult and costly part of any wireline broadband infrastructure project is getting cable from point A to point B. There are two primary ways of doing it: stringing it on poles or running through buried conduit. Since the chances of getting permission to build a new pole route in California is only slightly better than the odds of getting approval to drill for oil in San Francisco Bay, your only independent alternative is to start digging, at the rate of $30 to $60 a foot or more.… More