15 Jan Lawsuit Settled: A Major Victory for Connecticut Towns
Our future broadband networks will require municipalities to install fiber optic wiring on existing telephone poles to realize Internet access for all homes and businesses. Without this capability each community would have to create an electric utility to build out a network; the law would not allow otherwise. In May of 2018 our Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA), following the lead of Frontier, ruled that the state statute, number 16-233, that entitled municipalities to attach wire to pole was restricted to municipal uses only. Three entities sued PURA—a state agency called Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC), the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), and Sharon as a proxy for Northwest ConneCT. It was a battle between every CT municipality and incumbent carriers. Briefs and oral arguments flew around the state courthouse in New Britain.
On November 12, 2019, Judge Shortall issued his ruling—he reversed every argument PURA had made. PURA, Frontier, and others had 20 days to appeal. To the amazement of all, none did. It is over. Victory against powerful incumbent carriers like Frontier and Comcast does not seem to happen often. But we won. We won a victory for every community in Connecticut. We are now free to use poles for municipal networks that connect every home and business to the future.