"To maintain leadership in deploying broadband in rural America, ACA members need to access poles at low and stable prices in order for the price of high-speed Internet access to remain affordable for all consumers. An increase in pole fees will have a financially punishing and disproportionate impact on rural broadband providers, which rely on poles far more than urban providers and have fewer subscribers to absorb the impact of rising fees," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.
In comments filed Aug. 16, ACA explained that pole attachments fees, both current and projected, heavily influence broadband deployment schedules in rural markets. If the FCC permits pole fees to rise, the economic case for driving broadband facilities deeper into rural markets is harmed, leaving those consumers without access to the fast Internet transmission speeds that are commonly available in big cities.
Under a 1978 federal law, cable operators have a right to attach their wires to utility poles at regulated rates that fully compensate pole owners. In recent years, pole owners have urged the FCC to require cable operators providing new services to pay higher fees under a compensation formula that applies to traditional telecommunications companies. Application of the higher telecommunications rate could cause pole fees to jump by 400% for some ACA members, causing retail broadband rates to rise.
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