What is the Pole Attachment Act of 1978?

Oct 05, 2023

The Pole Attachment Act of 1978 is a U.S. federal law that regulates the rates, terms, and conditions under which telecommunications companies and cable television providers can attach their wires and cables to utility poles owned by electric and telephone companies. This law was enacted to promote competition and the efficient use of utility poles for the deployment of communication infrastructure.

Key provisions of the Pole Attachment Act of 1978 include:

Non-discriminatory Rates: The law requires utility companies that own the poles to provide access to their poles to telecommunications and cable TV companies at rates that are just and reasonable. This ensures that access to utility poles is not denied or unreasonably priced, fostering fair competition in the telecommunications and cable industries.

Access Rights: The Act grants telecommunications and cable companies the right to attach their wires and cables to utility poles, subject to reasonable terms and conditions set by the pole owner. Pole owners must provide access to their poles on a non-discriminatory basis.

FCC Oversight: The Federal Communications Commission has regulatory authority over pole attachments and is responsible for implementing and enforcing the provisions of the Act. The FCC can establish rules and regulations to ensure compliance with the law and resolve disputes between pole owners and attachers.

Complaint Procedures: The Act provides mechanisms for telecommunications and cable companies to file complaints with the FCC if they believe they are being denied access to utility poles on reasonable terms or facing discriminatory practices. The FCC can investigate such complaints and take action to remedy violations of the law.

Cost Allocation: The Act also allows for the allocation of costs associated with pole attachments among the parties involved. This ensures that the costs of pole attachment are fairly distributed among telecommunications providers, cable companies, and pole owners.

The Pole Attachment Act of 1978 has been important in promoting competition and expanding access to essential communication infrastructure in the United States. It has played a crucial role in facilitating the deployment of broadband Internet and other telecommunications services by ensuring that access to utility poles is available on reasonable terms and conditions.