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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2003


Dispute over railroad fiber rights-of-way may be near settlement

Dispute over railroad fiber rights-of-way may be near settlement

"After 15 years, area landowners' fight with Sprint over fiber-optic lines faces another hurdle"

"It's been 15 years since Joe Meighan walked out of his house one Saturday morning, .30-30 carbine in hand, to ask what earthly business Sprint had laying fiber-optic cable along the railroad that ran through his North Knoxville property. The workers left, only to return on Monday to finish the job while Meighan was at work, moving on down the track to create a network of telecommunications lines that now spans the country."

The legal issue grew out of a dispute over whether the railroad, which had an easement to cross the landowner's property with a railroad also had the right to sell or lease rights-of-way for fiber cables to companies like Sprint.

The resulting class-action lawsuit involves thousands of property owners and millions of dollars. It presents a cautionary tale not just for railroads but also power utilities that use their rights of way to place fiber cable on their poles -- do their underlying easement agreements allow them to do this as currently written without negotiation (and compensation) for the landowner?

The answer depends on many factors, among them local law, the right of way agreements themselves, the use to which their being placed and even the type of fiber cable used (OPGW -- optical groundwire -- or ADSS -- all dielectric self supporting cable).

Good article by Larissa Brass

Second, shorter article by Josh Long


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