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Ed specializes in environmental economics and litigation support.


Pricing Utility Rights of Way


ECONorthwest provided economic analysis and testimony on public right-of-way regulations and franchise fees.

The Challenge

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 guarantees municipalities the power to manage their public rights-of-way. This includes the ability to charge private telecommunications providers fair and reasonable fees when they use the space above and below public streets and sidewalks to convey services to their customers. Despite this guarantee, telecommunications companies have sued municipalities, alleging that these fees and regulations violate the Act.

The Results

In one example of this kind of litigation—Qwest Corporation v. City of Portland—ECONorthwest provided written and deposition testimony in support of the fees the City of Portland charges for the use of its right-of- way.

ECONorthwest's analysis demonstrated that in an economic sense, the public right-of-way is a scarce resource. Therefore, when municipalities establish fair and reasonable fees and regulations to use the public right-of- way, they help to ensure that the right-of-way will be used efficiently.

On September 15, 2006, the United States District Court for the District of Oregon upheld the City of Portland's right-of-way fees and regulations.

The Qwest Corporation v. City of Portland case is just one example of ECONorthwest's work on telecommunications right-of-way issues.

Other Examples of Our Work

Telecommunications Right-of-Way Charges

Similar to the analysis conducted for the City of Portland, for municipal governments in California and Alabama, ECONorthwest analyzed the fees that municipalities charged telecommunications companies to access the city-owned right-of-way.

Right-of-Way Pricing Structure

In a matter before the Federal Communications Commission, ECONorthwest evaluated the pricing structure that local governments charge providers of cable modem services for using the local right-of-way. In particular, ECONorthwest addressed the economic relevance of revenue-based fees in a congested right-of-way.

Interested in learning more about how ECONorthwest can help you with your next project? Our toolbox is full and our staff enjoy meeting new challenges.

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