Cities hoping to catch Google Fiber’s eye for network expansion tend to court the company openly – and some might even say shamelessly. While not as brazen as the good old Topeka, Kan., stunt/prank of temporarily renaming itself “Google” back in the day, Louisville, Ky., did something more staid that could have far more technological reach: It passed an ordinance a few weeks ago involving access to utility poles, usually called the “One Touch Make-Ready” rule.
AT&T is now saying “not so fast” by suing Louisville, and all this in turn has developed into fresh fodder for Google Fiber’s blog. Chris Levendos, director of national deployment and operations at Google Fiber, used his recent post to say he disagrees with competitor AT&T.
“Google Fiber stands with the City of Louisville and the other cities across the country that are taking steps to bring faster, better broadband to their residents,” Levendos says. “Such policies reduce cost, disruption and delay by allowing the work needed to prepare a utility pole for new fiber to be attached in as little as a single visit — which means more safety for drivers and the neighborhood.”
Levendos adds that it makes more sense for a team of contractors the pole owner has approved to complete the job, instead of potentially requiring multiple crews from multiple companies to work “on the same pole over weeks or months.”
Other municipalities will certainly be closely watching the Louisville case play out as they consider ways to attract Google Fiber’s attention. And you can be sure Google Fiber itself will be considering what this utility pole tussle means for its expansion plans in other places as well.
AT&T announced its own GigaPower plans for Louisville back in December, but according to information obtained by WDRB News, AT&T says that’s not the point. AT&T posits that Louisville doesn’t have the authority to permit a third party to remove, alter or move the operator’s equipment on utility poles as the new ordinance purports to allow, the WDRB article states. AT&T spokesman Joe Burgan says that Louisville “has no jurisdiction under federal or state law to regulate pole attachments,” WDRB adds.
“Google can attach to AT&T’s poles once it enters into AT&T’s standard Commercial Licensing Agreement, as it has in other cities,” Burgen’s statement reportedly continues. “This lawsuit is not about Google. It’s about the Louisville Metro Council exceeding its authority.”
Organizations that most likely will take exception to that line of reasoning will include the likes of the Fiber-to-the-Home Council, which has come out strongly about simplifying make-ready policies.
“All government agencies should adopt One Touch Make-Ready policies for utility poles,” Heather Burnett Gold, president of FTTH, says in a statement from last November. “This is similar to guidance offered in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, which called for “allow[ing] prospective attachers to use independent, utility approved and certified contractors to perform all engineering assessments and communications make-ready work … under the joint direction and supervision of the pole owner and the new attacher.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations