Telecom Infrastructure, Access, and Right of Way

Practice Areas

Wireless and Cable Infrastructure Access, Building Access, Right of Way, and Railroad Right of Way Matters

Providers seeking access to private and public property for the installation and maintenance of communications facilities need the support of legal counsel to ensure public rights-of-way, installation of equipment, registration of equipment, and access issues are addressed within the requirements of the FCC, private parties, and the public.

Real Estate and Building Access

Commercial real estate developers recognize the benefits of having co-located telecom services on building sites and are continually seeking new sources of revenue. Telecom companies should work with counsel to negotiate the terms and conditions when working with commercial developers. 

Private landowners are often reluctant to allow access to their property for the installation of communications facilities. Telecom companies should work with counsel to draft contracts that help meet the needs of private landowners. 

Unfortunately, there is little in the way of federal law mandating how and to whom commercial and private landowners grant access to their property. Thus, most of the terms of such access agreements are crafted through the negotiation process.

The CommLaw Group's attorneys have successfully negotiated numerous building agreements at sites across the country for both wired and wireless providers. In addition, we have experience approaching and negotiating with private landowners to gain necessary access to their property.

Our firm can also assist real estate developers in procuring and lawfully deploying state-of-the-art telecommunications, video, and Internet services for their developments, including full telecommunications infrastructure, through a wide variety of commercial arrangements.

Rights of Way

Strategic entity classification may open the door to rights-of-way access for telecom infrastructure

Providers seeking access to private and public property for the installation and maintenance of communications facilities need the support of legal counsel to ensure public rights-of-way, installation of equipment, registration of equipment, and access issues are addressed within the requirements of the FCC, private parties, and the public. 

Public Rights of Way and Cable Franchises

Restrictive rights-of-way entry requirements and onerous compensation requirements have been the subject of much litigation in recent years. Given the current budget crisis at both the state and local level, clashes between providers and government entities over right-of-way compensation issues likely will continue for years to come.

State and local governments do not have unlimited discretion in deciding whether to allow access to public rights-of-way and dictating the terms for such access. Section 253 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 sets the outer boundaries of their discretion and provides that state and local government laws and regulations may not "prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting" the ability of an entity from providing telecommunications services. Section 253 also requires that all state and local requirements be "competitively neutral" and not discriminate in favor of one provider or class of providers.

Pole Attachments

Similar to Section 253, Section 224 of the Telecommunications Act mandates that electric and telephone utilities provide access to their ducts, poles, and conduits to communications providers on just and reasonable rates, terms, and conditions.

While municipal pole-owning entities are exempt from the requirements set forth in Section 224, their discretion as to whether to grant access to their poles is not unlimited, as they are subject to the requirements of Section 253.

Importantly, in enacting Section 224, Congress created an exemption for those states that wished to preempt federal regulation of pole attachments by regulating such access themselves. Currently, nineteen states have certified that they are authorized to regulate the terms and conditions governing attachment to utility poles.

Private Rights-of-Way

In addition to seeking access to government-owned rights-of-way and utility ducts, poles, and conduits, there is an increasing demand for providers to gain access to commercial and multi-tenant residential buildings.

Wireless providers are requiring access to commercial property for the installation of wifi hotspots and network equipment. Triple-play (phone/VoIP, cable, and internet) offerings have increased equipment and consumer demands.

Further, there is a large need in rural areas, for providers to gain access to privately owned rights-of-way for the installations of their facilities.

Railroad Right of Way

In the United States, railroad rights-of-way (ROW or R/O/W) are generally considered private property by the respective railroad owners and by applicable state laws.

Providers seeking access to railroad property for the installation and maintenance of communications facilities need the support of legal counsel to ensure right-of-way, installation of equipment, registration of equipment, and access issues are addressed within the requirements of the FCC and the railroads.

Serving small and large providers, The CommLaw Group understands that railroads almost never agree to give access to the right of way without legal support. 

Read More

Resources

Insights and Advisories

Attorneys

Sign up for our email list to receive notifications regarding new advisories and news:

Ask An Attorney

Disclaimer: Please be advised that contacting our law firm through this contact form does not establish an attorney-client relationship. While we appreciate your interest in our services, we cannot guarantee the confidentiality of any information shared until an attorney-client relationship has been formally established. Therefore, we kindly request that you refrain from submitting any confidential or sensitive information through this form. Any information provided through this form will be treated as general inquiries and not as privileged or confidential communications. Thank you for your understanding.

Request Information

Stay informed with the latest legal advisories, news, and other information relevant to your business by signing up to receive our firm’s newsletter:

DISCLAIMER: By subscribing to our firm’s newsletter, you acknowledge that you have read and understand the disclaimers posted to our site.