TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Alamogordo Telephone Office

Re: Alamogordo Telephone Office
18 Oct 2005 10:23:43 -0700

TELECOM Digest Editor noted in respose to John McHarry:

> Telco insisted they had easement rights to that box to get to those
> pairs when they needed to do so. The people who had purchased the
> house knew nothing about any answering service switchboard; it had
> been long since removed when they bought the house. All that remained
> there was that 'phone closet' from years earlier. This was in Joliet,
> IL, and the people eventually got tired of Illinois Bell knocking on
> their door at 7 AM on Saturday morning to get access to 'their' pairs,
> so they sued and Bell finally got rid of the box by constructing a new
> terminal outside the house somewhere. If I could find the story
> somewhere I would re-run it here. PAT]

As I understand real estate law, such easements for utilities are part
of the general law and not necessarily shown on someone's deed. There
is nothing to stop the phone, power, or water company from digging up
your front lawn to run or maintain lines, whether you like it or not.

Obviously the need to enter the inside of someone's home is pushing
the envelope (and probably a waste of manpower time as well)

The law is fuzzier when it comes to newer services such as cable and
fiber optic. They don't have quite the same "common carrier" status
as the old line utility service. Even established carriers have to
handle things differently for new services. For example, when Verizon
strung fiber through our area for its FIOS service, they needed
municipal permission and they did not provide it universally. I
suspect customers of FIOS will see a tiny footnote on their bill
denoting a subsidiary company for the FIOS service.

When our cable company went fiber, they installed very ugly big
junction boxes on well-manicured lawns in expensive neighborhoods.
The residents were outraged over that descrecration plus the new
expense for a rented digital converter to get premium channels*. I
think the residents had to live with it. The boxes are indeed big and
ugly, but the residents go too nutsy over their lawns.

The cellphone carriers tried to have it both ways. They claimed
common carrier status meaning they could plant their towers where they
pleased overwriting municipal zoning codes. On the other hand, they
claimed to be free market if it served their purposes with rates,
customer service, and public responsibilities.

*I had HBO but dropped it when they added the digital converter
requirement, which was another $5 on top of the HBO premium charge. I
think technically they didn't need it, but rather went that way to
prevent cable theft. The cable company wised up eventually and
lowered the digital rental fee. Customers weren't buying some new
channels, so they just raised everybody's basic package price and
included them.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: You may be correct on easement laws. I
saw something in Chicago a few times I thought was very distasteful
and very uncaring. A homeowner had a couple of large trees on his
property, very beautiful older Oak trees. The Commonwealth Edison
Company had some electric lines running from some street pole to a
house nearby and the electric lines ran right through some of the
large branches on the trees. (Mostly because over the years as the
trees grew taller, the branches grew out and encompassed the electric
lines.) In the case of one tree, Edison just chopped it down totally,
even though it had been growing there for forty or fifty years. In the
case of the other tree, they decided to 'save it' by climbing up into
it (with one of those lift baskets attached to the utility trucks)
and chopped off two or three or the long branches leaving the tree
standing there sort of lop sided with leaves and branches growing on
one side of it, sawed off stumps on the other side of it high in the
air, leaving it very ugly and grotesque looking. I guess it did not
occur to Edison to simply re-route their electric lines a few feet so
the tree could have lived there peacefully as well. The people who
lived in the house did not like it either, and thought it left the
tree looking very hideous, but Edison insisted they had the right to
do it that way under their easement rules. Personally, I think
they should have gotten a good suing on account of it. PAT]

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