The United States Supreme Court Issues Decision in National Cable & Telecommunications Association v. Gulf Power Company
By Mark A. Stachiw and Michelle W. Cohen
On January 16, 2002, the United States Supreme Court issued its long awaited decision in National Cable Telecommunications Association v. Gulf Power. In its decision, the Court upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s authority under Section 224 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to regulate the rates for pole attachments by cable television systems offering highspeed Internet access and wireless telecommunications service providers. Prior to enactment of the 1996 Act, public utility companies were required to permit cable television operators to attach their lines to the public utilities’ poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way owned or controlled by the public utility. In response to the introduction of high-speed Internet access via cable systems, the Commission concluded that it also had the authority to regulate the rates for pole attachments for high-speed Internet access offered by cable operators on a commingled basis.