Cable Companies Sue to Block WV Law That Would Have Allowed New Competition




Telephone Terminals in Disarray on Phone Pole

Telephone Terminals in Disarray on Phone PoleWell, this really should not be a surprise, but West Virginia’s largest cable companies have filed a lawsuit against Governor Jim Justice and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, alleging that a new state law could ultimately cause Internet service outages at customers’ homes and businesses.

This new law would have made it easier for start-up Internet firms to secure access to utility poles. Now the state’s Cable Telecommunications Association is suing to block other companies from having easier access to utility poles. It seems that the Cable Telecommunications Association is worried that inexperienced subcontractors may damage their equipment.

“There could be significant damage to equipment and to customer relationships and outages and things of that sort when you have circumstances where there are no limitations at all on competitors moving other competitors’ equipment around,” said Mark Polen, spokesman for the cable group.

The FCC has already been looking at a similar rule to what West Virginia is doing now. There is even a proposal by the current FCC board to force cable companies to let others use their poles. This is designed to help speed up the roll out of new Internet services and prevent multiple poles being placed next to each other.

“During the legislative session, we encouraged that the pole attachment provisions not be included in the bill, primarily because the FCC was undergoing an extensive review of these rules,” Polen said. “We thought it was premature for the state to deal with the topic.”

The new law not only makes it easier for new companies to run lines, but also for new community broadband for to start up. The law authorizes up to three cities or counties to band together and build broadband networks.

Source: Charleston Gazette-Mail

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