AN ACT TO FACILITATE THE EXPANSION OF BROADBAND SERVICE IN UNSERVED AREAS OF THE STATE BY ENSURING TIMELY AND NONDISCRIMINATORY ACCESS TO MUNICIPAL AND ELECTRIC MEMBERSHIP COOPERATIVE UTILITY POLES, DUCTS, AND CONDUITS AT JUST AND REASONABLE RATES; TO AUTHORIZE COUNTIES TO PROVIDE GRANTS TO BROADBAND SERVICE PROVIDERS; TO FURTHER DEFINE THE TERM "CITY UTILITY POLE"; TO PROHIBIT CERTAIN FEES FOR THE COLLOCATION OF SMALL WIRELESS FACILITIES; AND TO MAKE RELATED CHANGES.
Enacts new GS 62-350.1 requiring a municipality or membership corporation, upon request of a communications service provider (provider), to replace a pole when the provider is granted access for the purpose of offering broadband service in an unserved area and that access requires pole replacement that can be performed in a manner that is consistent with applicable safety requirements. Defines unserved area as an area in which, according to the most recent map of fixed broadband Internet access service made available by the FCC, fixed, terrestrial broadband service at speeds of at least 25 megabits per second download and at least three megabits per second upload is unavailable at the time the communication service provider requests access. Specifies that "for the purpose of offering broadband service in an unserved area" means the pole to be replaced is located in an unserved area or is located in an area other than an unserved area but requires replacement to support facilities necessary to extend the provider's facilities to reach an unserved area. Prohibits requiring reimbursement for pole replacement, except for costs incurred solely because of the attachment. Sets out records that must be maintained that will be used to determine costs. Requires the municipality or membership corporation to: (1) promptly review a request for access, perform surveys, provide estimates and final invoices, and complete, or require the completion by other attaching entities, of any work necessary to accommodate a provider's request for attachment for purposes of offering broadband service in an unserved area and (2) perform or allow providers to perform all other actions to facilitate access to poles in the same time lines and pursuant to the same procedures to provide access to utility poles as provided in the specified federal law on the date this section becomes effective. Allows initiating a proceeding before the North Carolina Utilities Commission (Commission) to resolve a dispute arising from a denial of a request for access or if there is an impasse regarding an attachment request. Requires the Commission to issue a final order within 120 days. Allows the Commission to adopt rules to exercise its authority to adjudicate any disputes arising under this statute.
Amends GS 153A-459 to allow counties to provide grants for providers of broadband service (was, providers of high speed Internet access service) and expands allowable grant recipients to include both private and nonprofit providers (was, private providers only). No longer requires the providers to be within the county. Specifies that a county is not required to seek and consider requests for proposals when providing financial or other support in connection with an application from a private provider for a broadband service grant under GS 143B-1373 (Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program). No longer requires meeting the specified notice requirements when making sure potential applicants are aware of the grant program. Allows the county to fund the grants with State or federal funds in addition to the already allowed general fund revenue (was, unrestricted general fund revenue only). Specifies that for any grants awarded under the statute after the date this section becomes effective, the term "unserved area" does not include any location where a private provider has been designated to receive funds through State or federally funded programs designed specifically for broadband service deployment if the recipient of the funding is in good standing with the grantor agency's requirements regarding construction build-out and time lines.
Amends GS 160D-931 by expanding upon the definition of a city utility pole to require that it be owned by the city (1) in the city right-of-way that provides lighting, traffic control, or a similar function and (2) as part of a public enterprise owned or operated by a city pursuant to Article 16 of GS Chapter 160A of consisting of an electric power generation, transmission, or distribution system (adds in this second element).
Amends GS 160D-935 by prohibiting a city from charging a wireless provider who is taxed under GS 105-164.4(a)(4c) (tax on gross receipts derived from providing telecommunications service and ancillary service) and submits an application under GS 160D-935(d) (under which a city may require an applicant to obtain a permit to collocate a small wireless facility) or GS 160D-936(j) (under which a wireless provider may apply to a city to place utility poles in the city rights-of-way, or to replace or modify utility poles or city utility poles in the public rights-of-way, to support the collocation of small wireless facilities): (1) a fee for the collocation of a small wireless facility or the installation, modification, or replacement of a utility pole or city utility pole in the city right-of-way including the specified fees or (2) except for recurring charges assessed under GS 160D-937(a), (c), and (d) (fees related to access to city utility poles to install small wireless facilities), a recurring charge for the collocation of a small wireless facility in the city right-of-way or the installation, modification, or replacement of a utility pole or city utility pole in the city right-of-way including, without limitation, a recurring charge under GS 160D-936(f) (a city's right-of-way charge for use or occupation of the right-of-way by a wireless provider). No longer makes the fees for an application for collocation of small wireless facilities, or for technical consulting fees for applications subject to the limitation in GS 160A-296(a)(6).
Amends GS 160D-936 to no longer make the fee charged by a city as a right-of-way charge for use or occupation of the right-of-way by a wireless provider subject to the limitation in GS 160A-296(a)(6).
Amends GS 160D-937, concerning access to city utility poles to install small wireless facilities, as follows. No longer exempts from the statute a city that owns or operates a public enterprise pursuant to Article 16 of GS Chapter 160A consisting of an electric power generation, transmission, or distribution system. Excludes from all of Part 3, Wireless Telecommunication Facilities (instead of excluding from just this statute), an electric membership corporation organized under GS Chapter 117 that owns or controls poles, ducts, or conduits and is exempt from regulation under section 224 of the Communications Act of 1934. Makes conforming changes.