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Press Release

PUC Initiates Rulemaking on Jurisdiction Over Pole Attachments as the State Seeks to Expand Broadband Access

Published on 6/14/2018

Filed under: Telecommunications

HARRISBURG –The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission today approved a motion by Commissioner Norman J. Kennard to begin a rulemaking to assert the Commission’s jurisdiction over pole attachments and create a forum for dispute resolution.

“One of the basic mainstays of the delivery of telecommunications and electric services is so commonplace as to be invisible.  I am speaking about utility poles and the countless miles of wire and equipment that comprise the physical backbone of our utility facilities,” said Commissioner Kennard in his motion. “These humble poles and the wires, lines, and equipment they carry ensure the safe and reliable delivery of electricity, communications, cable, telecommunications, data and more, to millions of Americans, every moment of every day.”

The 1996 Telecommunications Act established the federal statutory rules for pole attachments, which provides for regulation of pole attachments by the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) or, through reverse-preemption, state regulation.  Pole owners and attaching entities fall under either federal regulation by default or state regulation if a state expressly opted out. The Commission has not elected to regulate pole attachments and, thus, jurisdiction still resides at the FCC.  The rulemaking would change that.

“The Internet and data technology has led to quantum leaps in education, medicine, business, industry, entertainment, and societal development. But these new technologies have created new issues related to pole attachments, and the current system of federal oversight is inadequate because there is no ready or efficient means to enforce them.  This is particularly evident as policymakers seek to expand broadband access for all Commonwealth residents, businesses, schools, hospitals, particularly in the more rural and remote portions of the Commonwealth,” said Commissioner Kennard in his motion. 

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

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Docket No. L-2018-3002672




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