On Monday August 12, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Enforcement Bureau issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order in MAW Communications, Inc. v. PPL Electric Utilities Corp., finding that PPL had unlawfully denied access to PPL poles located in the City of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. DWT filed the denial of access complaint in February 2019 on behalf of MAW.
Communications seeking an order requiring PPL to process MAW’s pending pole attachment applications under the FCC’s new complaint procedures, which require the FCC to act on an access complaint within 180 days.
The applications were filed in connection with MAW’s partnership with the City of Lancaster to rebuild the City’s fiber network, known as LanCity Connect. At present, LanCity Connect has between 250 and 300 customers. MAW is a family-owned and operated telecommunications provider based in Reading, Pennsylvania providing service to Berks and Lancaster counties over its network of 4,500 strand miles of fiber.
The Order finds that PPL violated Section 224(f) and FCC rule 1.1403(a), and orders PPL to respond to MAW’s 142 long-pending applications, covering approximately 1,000 attachments, under the newly effective (as of May 20, 2019) pole attachment timeframes, which the FCC deems to have started running on the date the order was issued. MAW had attached its facilities as part of a rebuild of Lancaster’s municipal broadband offering using the attachment locations previously occupied by the city.
Prior to DWT’s engagement, PPL sued MAW in county court alleging breach of contract and had obtained preliminary injunctive relief in the form of an order requiring MAW to file applications for all attachments PPL claimed were unauthorized, permitting PPL to remove existing attachments, and preventing MAW from attaching to PPL’s poles or accessing existing attachments without consent.
MAW promptly submitted applications for all of the attachments. Nevertheless, under cover of the court order, PPL refused to process the applications (citing a payment dispute between the parties), began dismantling MAW’s network, and denied multiple requests by MAW to perform maintenance on its attached facilities.
Maria Browne and Van Bloys handled this case for MAW.