Joint Use

Joint Use is the practice of co-locating non-electrical equipment on or within electrical infrastructure.


Equipment placed on electrical utility poles is typically for telecommunications, including wireline (telephone, cable, and internet), and in more recent years, wireless. In some instances, it is the telecommunications company that owns the pole, and the electrical equipment is joint use on the pole. Joint use also occurs in underground ducts and trenches.

The main principals of joint use attachments are safety, accessibility, maintainability, security, and reliability of the electricity infrastructure which are paramount while maintaining a high level of customer service and recovering costs. Another principal item, although not electrically focused, is to provide non-discriminatory access to all attachers.

Wireline and Wireless Joint Use Attachments must meet CSA 22.3 Part 1 (Overhead Systems and/or Underground Systems), Health Canada Safety Code 6, and the electrical utility standards. Wireless Attachments requiring an electrical power supply, shall also meet the provincial electrical safety code. In some provinces, there are additional regulations and codes that may require more obligations on both the power utility and telecommunication companies, to be able to establish joint use.

Electricity Canada & Joint Use

Electricity Canada has been actively involved in the regulation and consideration of joint use issues for many years. It has developed substantial expertise in this field and participated directly and indirectly in regulatory and court proceedings. The highest profile court proceeding to date is the 2003 Barrie Public Utilities vs. Canadian Cable Television Association where the court sided with the electrical sector and found that the federal Telecommunications Act did not grant regulatory control of electrical poles and that such control was a provincial power.

In recent years, there have been calls for the Canadian Radio‑television and Telecommunications (CRTC) to assume regulatory authority over electrical utility poles to promote the expansion of 5G and rural/remote broadband internet. Electricity Canada disagrees with this position as it would undermine the key considerations of joint use, namely safety and electrical system reliability. Electricity Canada members are enthusiastic partners with telecom companies to see improvements in telecommunications systems throughout Canada so long as the primary purpose of the electrical infrastructure – the safe, reliable, and affordable delivery of electricity – is respected.

Key Messages

  • Electric Utilities are enthusiastic partners with telecommunication companies to expand and improve telecommunications services to Canadians so long as such partnerships do not prove detrimental to electrical customers as well as the safety and reliability of the electrical grid.