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Telephone Poles

May 21st, 2010 by Marcus Maher

Whoops.  The title of this blog post is wrong. It should be “utility poles,” which points to one of the many ironies in the hidden life of the ubiquitous utility pole.  Most of what are commonly known as telephone poles are actually owned by the electric utility –70% of them, in fact.  But whether a telephone company or other utility owns the poles, every other kind of company that hangs anything on these poles pays the utility company for the privilege, and under current federal rules a cable company and a telephone company pay different rates for attaching their lines to a pole.  But now that broadband and IP communications are merging voice, data and video, charging different rates for different types of communications services seems to make less and less sense.

Make no mistake about it: the humble telephone, er, utility pole, is hot real estate.  Companies pay, on average, anywhere between $7 per foot and $20 per foot for a pole attachment.  Multiplied by hundreds of thousand of poles, that can have an impact on whether services are delivered to a community or not.  Utility poles are essential infrastructure, and infrastructure costs can affect the price or availability of service, the National Broadband Plan found.  In rural areas, where there may be more poles per mile than people, the cost of pole attachments could deter broadband deployment.  Or in other instances, a cable company planning to bundle voice, data and video in the coaxial cable might be deterred if the voice service would subject the company to a higher pole attachment rate.

Also, it can take new companies many months or even years to get their facilities on the poles.  Adding a new attacher often means that existing attachers must all move their wires, which they have little incentive to do quickly.  Frustrated attachers may be tempted to take matters into their own hands and put up their wires in secret, which can be unsafe as well as unfair to the pole owner.  Access can become even more complicated when wireless carriers want to put their antennas on pole tops to fill in cellular coverage.  

So following up on the National Broadband Plan, the Commission is taking a look at ways to reduce costs and speed access to poles in an Order and FNPRM released in yesterday's Open Commission Meeting.  The item will also look at whether rates can be made as low and as close to uniform as possible.  So next time you walk down the street, don’t take that humble stick of creosoted dead tree for granted.  It’s as important a part of delivering you 21st century communications as that slick iPad is – though maybe not as pretty to look at.



Capture The Phone Numbers Using Your Camera Phone

If you have a camera and a 2D matrix code reader on your mobile phone, you can capture the FCC Phone numbers right to your phone by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Take a photograph of one of the codes below using the camera on your mobile phone.
Step 2: Use your phone's Datamatrix or QR Code reader to decode the information on the photograph. Please note, these code readers are device specific and are available to download on the internet.
Step 3: Store the decoded address information to your phone's address book and use it with your Maps or GPS application.

Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones