Supreme Court Won't Review FCC Pole Attachment Decision

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upholding the FCC's pole attachment rate order, which means.

The court does not have to explain why it denies an appeal, simply saying that the petitions for appeal in Electric Power Service v. FCC had been denied and that Justice Alito had taken no part in the decision.

The D.C. Circuit had found that the FCC, in changing decades old policy on pole attachments, had justified the standard -- set in the recent Fox indecency case -- for justifying its change in policy.

The FCC in July 2011 had voted to reform its pole attachment rules  as another way to promote broadband deployment and ease telecom's route to that deployment. That included lowering rates utility pole owners can charge telecoms (as much as $20 per foot per year) to about the same as the cable rate of about $7 per foot per year. The FCC also voted to boost wireless access to poles and setting a deadline for utility companies to allow attachments. Some utility companies challenged the decision, which limited their authority in favor of easing broadband deployment.

The change meant, among other things, that cable companies won't have to pay more for their telecom offerings, either, which could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in savings.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has rightly put a final stake in the efforts of the electric utility industry to delay the FCC’s implementation of the statute’s clear directive," said USTelecom vice president Glenn Reynolds. "We are hopeful that these companies will now come to the table to negotiate reasonable attachment rates and conditions and, where they continue to refuse, that the FCC will move quickly to enforce its pole attachment rules.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.