A. Every telegraph company and every telephone company incorporated by this or any other state, or by the United States, may construct, maintain and operate its line along and parallel to any of the railroads of the Commonwealth, and shall have authority to occupy and use the public parks, roads, works, turnpikes, streets, avenues and alleys in any of the counties, with the consent of the board of supervisors or other governing authority thereof, or in any incorporated city or town, with the consent of the council thereof, and the waterways within this Commonwealth, for the erection of poles and wires, or cables, or the laying of underground conduits, portions of which they may lease, rent, or hire to other like companies; provided, however, that if the road or street be in the State Highway System or the secondary system of state highways, the consent of the board of supervisors or other governing authority of any county shall not be necessary, but a permit for such occupation and use shall first be obtained from the Commonwealth Transportation Board.
B. No locality or the Commonwealth Transportation Board shall impose any fees on a certificated provider of telecommunications service for the use of public rights-of-way except in the manner prescribed in § 56-468.1; provided, however, the provisions of § 56-468.1 shall not apply to providers of commercial mobile radio services.
C. No locality or the Commonwealth Transportation Board shall impose on certificated providers of telecommunications service, whether by franchise, ordinance or other means, any restrictions or requirements concerning the use of the public rights-of-way (including but not limited to the permitting process; notice, time and location of excavations and repair work; enforcement of the statewide building code; and inspections), which are (i) unfair or unreasonable or (ii) any greater than those imposed on the following users of the public rights-of-way: all providers of telecommunications services and nonpublic providers of cable television, electric, natural gas, water and sanitary sewer services. For purposes of this subsection, “restrictions or requirements concerning the use of the public rights-of-way” shall not include any existing franchise fee or the Public Rights-of-Way Use Fee.
D. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any permit or other permission required by a locality pursuant to a franchise, ordinance, or other permission to use the public rights-of-way or by the Commonwealth Transportation Board of a certificated provider of telecommunications services to use the public rights-of-way shall be granted or denied within forty-five days from submission and, if denied, accompanied by a written explanation of the reasons the permit was denied and the actions required to cure the denial.
E. No locality receiving directly or indirectly a Public Rights-of-Way Use Fee or the Commonwealth Transportation Board shall require a certificated provider of telecommunications services to provide in-kind services or physical assets as a condition of consent to use public rights-of-way or easements, or in lieu of the Public Rights-of-Way Use Fee. This shall not limit the ability of localities, their authorities or commissions which provide utility services, or the Commonwealth Transportation Board to enter into voluntary pole attachment, conduit occupancy or conduit construction agreements with certificated providers of telecommunications service. Any locality, other than a city or town electing to continue to enforce an existing franchise, ordinance or other form of consent under subsection J of § 56-468.1, or the Commonwealth Transportation Board may continue to use pole attachments and conduits utilized as of December 31, 1997. Any pole attachment or conduit occupancy fees charged by certificated providers of telecommunications services for this use shall be waived for facilities in place as of December 31, 1997, and shall be waived for future extensions in cities with populations between 60,000 and 70,000, so long as the locality or the Commonwealth Transportation Board continues to use these facilities on such poles or in such conduits solely for their internal communications needs. The fee waiver is for the occupancy fees only, does not cover any relocation, rearrangement or other make-ready costs, and does not apply to any county, city or town that has obtained a certificate pursuant to § 56-265.4:4.
Code 1919, § 4035; 1926, p. 907; 1997, cc. 474, 515; 1998, cc. 742, 758; 2002, cc. 479, 489; 2006, c. 780.