With oral arguments before a three-judge appeals court for the Fourth Circuit set to begin on January 24, 2024, Duke Energy and AT&T have agreed to settle their disagreements against the FCC over a pole rate decision that both were concerned about for different reasons.
On November 18, 2022, in a unanimous vote, the FCC stood by its 2021 decision regarding utility pole attachment rates in a dispute between AT&T and Duke Energy Progress, denying Duke Energy’s bid to revisit a ruling that slashed the rates that AT&T pays to attach equipment to its utility poles.
However, Duke Energy sought judicial review by filing a petition for review ten days later. AT&T also sought review, and both petitions were consolidated.
After both companies resolved their differences, the court dismissed the appeals on January 8, 2024. The FCC did not oppose their motion.
Following the November 18, 2022 vote, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel applauded the FCC’s resolution of the joint use agreement decision (Available here as Exhibit 1), stating, “The details are complicated, but the message is simple – the Federal Communications Commission stands ready to do what it can to provide certainty so that disputes like these are resolved, poles are accessed, and high-speed networks are built.”
The settlement signifies a resolution to a contentious issue that had the potential to impact pole attachment rates and the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure. However, the precise terms and conditions of the settlement remain undisclosed, leaving some aspects of the resolution open to interpretation.