As we see the Legislative session ramp up, I wanted to reflect on the results that successful advocacy brings. Last session, Senator Robert Nichols introduced Senate Bill 14, which authorized Electric Cooperatives to use their electric rights of way to deploy broadband facilities. The initial bill contained no protections to ensure a level playing field on competitive services nor landowner rights.
Through work from TTA and several of our member companies, the bill was changed to ensure that electric co-ops would not have a competitive advantage in using their existing facilities for broadband expansion and service. Through the tireless efforts of our members and our lobby team, we were able to have the legislation amended to make those co-ops comply with the same kind of rules our phone companies operate under, including prohibiting cross subsidizing broadband operations with electric operations and ensuring just and reasonable pole attachment rates that do not favor one broadband provider over another.
When the bill was passed, the average pole attachment fee was around $22. As of this month, after full implementations of Senate Bill 14, those rates have dropped to around $6.50. This has provided not only a financial win for broadband providers in rural areas, but also for TTA member’s customers, who now see cheaper facilities costs reflected in their bills. As this session unfolds, we will see several bills that affect our companies and our competitors, and we will strive to make sure the advocacy lessons learned in the Senate Bill 14 debate drive our strategy this year.
It is the goal of TTA to build stronger relationships and have open communication between all its members. Your story is real. Your story is important. Your story makes a difference. Our goal is to hear and share your story with folks in Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.TTA Board of Directors