In Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2023-31, dated 15 February 2023, the Commission announced a new regulatory policy to facilitate access to poles owned by Canadian carriers (telecommunications poles) or poles to which Canadian carriers control access. The focus of this regulatory policy is to accelerate the deployment of broadband-capable networks and was based on a proceeding that was focused on investigating issues related to rural broadband deployment (Telecom Notice of Consultation 2019-406).
The regulatory policy addresses poles in all areas. However, it was not focused on issues associated with urban densification, and therefore small cells were not explicitly included in the scope of the proceeding. The Commission stated that it intends to launch a proceeding to comprehensively address the issue of the placement of wireless facilities, including small cells, on ILEC support structures. As a result, the Commission did not render a decision on small cells in this new regulatory policy.
Here are some of the new regulatory policies for pole access (non-exhaustive list):
New parties seeking access to poles (attachers) are not responsible for the costs associated with corrective works, to the extent that the poles or third-party equipment were out of compliance with construction standards prior to the receipt of the new attachment request;
ILECs are prohibited from denying an application due to the lack of capacity caused by a pole not being up to construction standards;
ILECs must enter into good-faith negotiations with potential attachers to find mutually beneficial solutions to upgrade poles with a lack of spare capacity;
Allows the attachers the possibility of carrying out the simple make-ready work described in the make-ready work estimate themselves, or have it done through an approved contractor;
Establishes a one-touch make-ready regime which, under certain conditions, would allow the ILECs and attachers to perform make-ready work on facilities, and on behalf of other parties with facilities already attached to a pole;
Allows installation before make-ready work is completed and temporary workaround solutions for installing attachers’ facilities on poles;
ILECs must provide detailed reasoning to the attacher and to the Commission when denying an attacher’s application due to the lack of spare capacity;
The ILECs' support structure service tariffs and the Commission’s determinations in the regulatory policy also apply to joint-use poles, specifically poles owned partially or wholly by the ILEC, as well as the elements of other poles on which the ILECs exercise any involvement or control, or for which they control access.
The Commission also directed the ILECs to amend their support structure service tariffs to include faster timelines for pole access applications with the timelines, in calendar days. Below is just a sample of the new timelines. Please refer to the revised tariffs for a complete listing of all new process timelines and consequences for missed deadlines.
20 poles or fewer
Step / Type of make-ready work
Complete a survey of poles & grant or deny access
Send detailed, itemized estimate of charges
Complete make-ready work