Tennessee Telephone Pole Dancing

David Williams

March 1, 2013

Today (March 1) the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) sent a letter to members of  the Tennessee House and Senate urging them to vote against a bill that according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press “would allow Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and government-owned utilities to charge an exorbitant amount for cable and telecommunications companies to use electric companies’ utility poles.”  This legislation would stifle Internet and phone service deployment and ultimately hurt consumers. The Tennessee-based Freedom to Connect states that, “Attachment rates are sky rocketing. In fact, in Tennessee public power companies and co-ops charge rates that are among the highest in the entire nation – rates averaging $17 per pole attachment. Some Tennessee power companies are charging as much as $30 per attachment, nearly 300% higher than the national cooperative average of $10.38 and more than 400% higher than the rates charged by investor owned utilities.  The House and Senate bills would force providers to pay millions in additional pole fees, which in turn would mean phone and Internet providers would have to raise rates.  This is bad for the free market and bad for consumers

Below is a sample of the letters that were sent:

March 1, 2013

Representative Barry Doss

301 6th Avenue North

Suite 106 War Memorial Bldg.

Nashville, TN 37243

Dear Rep. Doss,

On behalf of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance I urge you to defeat House Bill 1111, that, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, “would allow Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and government-owned utilities to charge an exorbitant amount for cable and telecommunications companies to use electric companies’ utility poles.”  This legislation would stifle Internet and phone service deployment and ultimately hurt consumers.

Every year cable, telephone, and Internet providers pay a fee to electric providers to rent a portion of their poles to hang their lines to provide their services to homes and businesses.  This “pole attachment fee” provides revenue to electric companies to install and maintain poles.

The Tennessee-based Freedom to Connect states that, “Attachment rates are sky rocketing. In fact, in Tennessee public power companies and co-ops charge rates that are among the highest in the entire nation – rates averaging $17 per pole attachment. Some Tennessee power companies are charging as much as $30 per attachment, nearly 300% higher than the national cooperative average of $10.38 and more than 400% higher than the rates charged by investor owned utilities.  In some cases, broadband companies cannot serve Tennesseans because they are being denied the right to attach to poles. This prevents much needed investment in high-speed Internet infrastructure and impedes economic development.”

House Bill 1111 would force providers to pay millions in additional pole fees, which in turn would mean phone and Internet providers would have to raise rates.  This is bad for the free market and bad for consumers.  We urge you to defeat any attempt to raise these rates, and in particular, we urge you to stop House Bill 1111.

Sincerely,

David E. Williams

President

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