Towns can soon avoid fee for broadband devices on poles

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) Some Maine towns seeking to set up municipal broadband will no longer have to pay a fee to put equipment on utility poles.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills recently signed a bill into law to exempt municipalities from such "make-ready fees."

Owners will be responsible for expenses needed to make poles ready for municipal efforts to provide broadband service to underserved areas. The law takes effect 90 days after the legislative session ends.

A Senate Democrat spokeswoman says state regulations leave municipalities facing fees for attaching equipment to utility poles. Such charges compensate utilities for getting poles ready for new attachments.

An Emera Maine lobbyist voiced concern the bill shifts costs of municipal broadband programs to utility customers.

The bill drew support from a broadband initiative in Arrowsic, Georgetown and Southport.