Why Does Verizon Care About Telephone Poles? [telecom]

Opinion By Sam Liccardo

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Like every other 8-year-old whom I tutored at a local school, Omar didn't know anything - and didn't care much - about high-stakes disputes over net neutrality, free speech and privacy that have consumed much of the news coverage of the telecommunications industry in recent years. Yet the inability of Omar's parents to afford broadband internet access lies at the heart of a battle that will have a far greater impact on his future: the fight over street poles.

Public street poles may not look like much, but to wireless service providers, they're valuable real estate. Companies like Verizon want low-cost access to them to install equipment to handle the rapidly growing demand for mobile data. But poles are owned locally, and cities and counties aren't eager to give away access at below-market rates. Doing so would essentially subsidize an already wealthy industry - nationwide, as much as $2 billion a year, money that could otherwise go to expanding low-cost broadband access for people like Omar's family.

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Reply to
Bill Horne
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AFAICT, the pole fees and per-pole installation protocol are a major barrier to getting fast Internet service to rural areas such as mine. Nothing to do with wireless. The powerco owns the poles with existing telco voice lines in place. But the telco and cableco have to pay a

4-figure fee per pole to hang new lines. Reps/techs from all companies using or about to use the pole have to be present at each pole for each new attachment.

The small potential subscriber population in a small rural community is enough of a barrier. The per-pole costs is just too much. In my case, ca.1/2 mile from existing cable is 20 poles, guestimate $40K up front. Just eliminating the pole costs would go further to get Internet to rural communities than large, complicated "rural Internet" plans and contracts.

But what do I know? I'm not an industry insider.

Reply to
Mike Spencer

FWIW, here is an article from WUTR describing the engineering necessary to build pole lines. A lot of factors have to be considered. (There is also the pole itself--what kind of wood, what kind of preservation treatment, etc.)

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***** Moderator's Note *****

Some years ago, I told a friend of mine who was in the "Holes and Poles" end of the business that I was going to use one of the pine trees in my backyard to hold up my ham radio antenna. He laughed, and said that was a bad idea: "Telephone poles," he told me, "are made of Southern Yellow Pine, which is a hardwood. Your yard has Northern White Pine, which is used to make matchsticks!"

Bill Horne Moderator

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