After years of work behind the scenes, Rock Hill City Council Monday paved the way for three new companies to provide telecommunications service in city limits.
Council gave initial approval to a a plan that allows TW Telecom, Navacore LLC and DukeNet to lease space on city-owned utility poles to run fiber, cable and copper lines.
While the companies’ eventual choice to offer service ultimately depends on the free market, Deputy City Manager Jimmy Bagley says the city’s decision is about offering equal access to publicly owned utility lines.
“From my perspective, it’s irrelevant [what these companies do],” Bagley said. “They have the same right to access the poles…what they do with it is up to the state.”
A Certificate of Necessity is required for any utility company to do business in South Carolina, and would be issued by the State Public Service Commission.
Until now, Rock Hill-based Comporium Communications is the only utility provider in Rock Hill, but has faced increase competition from competitors. Pending final approval by city council, that barrier to entry to the Rock Hill market is significantly reduced.
“When you have a lot of infrastructure already in place, it is hard to under build or overbuild with existing markets,” Bagley said.
The plan reviewed Monday calls for the city to charge $1,000 per right-of-way and $22 per leased pole.
Representatives from TW Telecom were present for Monday’s meeting and later said the company plans to introduce business-to-business service in Rock Hill, but could not identify a timeline for the project.
Comporium Communications did not immediately respond to questions for comment for this story.
The City of Rock Hill owns approximately 8,000 utility poles, Bagley said, and Comporium owns a similar amount of its own utility poles.