Company takes a pole position: Frontier weighs in on ownership saga
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
If there’s a question about who owns the poles to be used for Lake County’s broadband network, Frontier Communications says the company has proof of which ones are theirs.
Lake Connections, the company under which Lake County is constructing a broadband network to extend phone, internet and digital television to residents, is nearing completion of phase one of construction. This includes attaching fiber to utility poles in Two Harbors.
There have been questions over the ownership of these poles in recent weeks. The poles, many of which Lake Connections has already utilized for attaching fiber, are within Two Harbors city limits. Frontier, a telecommunications provider in Lake County, said Lake Connections connected to their poles without submitting permit applications.
“We were under the impression that they were all city-owned poles,” said Jeff Roiland, project manager for Lake Connections.
As reported in last week’s News-Chronicle, Roiland said the city has been maintaining the poles in question for years. Two Harbors Mayor Randy Bolen agreed that the city has been maintaining and replacing the poles as needed, but that the question of ownership never came up before the fiber project.
“It appears that the city may have replaced some Frontier-owned poles without Frontier’s authorization,” Lehman said.
In a statement issued last Wednesday, Kirk Lehman, general manager for Frontier Communications in northern Minnesota, said that Frontier provided continuing property records showing which poles they own to Lake Connections and the city of Two Harbors. Roiland said he doesn’t recall the records, but they may have been provided to another member of the fiber team.
Frontier also said Lake County placed its fiber in the wrong order on the pole. Industry standards dictate where utility lines should be placed — usually the heaviest lines go on the bottom.
“Lake County has placed fiber on Frontier-owned poles … without following industry standards that specify where the facilities of different entities are to be attached,” Lehman said.
Mayor Randy Bolen passed a motion at last week’s Two Harbors City Council meeting to set up a meeting between Lake Connections and Frontier Communications mediated by city officials. Roiland said he hasn’t heard when or where the meeting will be held.