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AT&T says it can block Google Fiber from poles in Austin; city begs to differ

Carrier controls about 20 percent of the city's utility poles
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AT&T (NYSE: T) owns about 20 percent of the utility poles in Austin, Texas, and says it doesn't have to provide access to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Fiber. The city council, which owns the remaining 80 percent, isn't pleased with that and has drafted an ordinance to make AT&T open up the poles.

A vote on that ordinance has been postponed until Jan. 24 to give AT&T and Google time to work things out--if they can, according to a story in Ars Technica.

"Google has the right to attach to our poles under federal law, as long as it qualifies as a telecom or cable provider. We will work with Google when they become qualified, as we do with all such qualified providers," Trace King, AT&T's vice president of public affairs told the Austin American-Statesman, the Ars Technica story said.

Semantics is a large part of the discussion. Google Fiber is not a certified telecommunications provider, nor is it a television or cable company.

Basically, AT&T would like Google to reimburse it for the pole use. That approach worked in Kansas City, the story said.

The problem right now appears to be how much Google will pay. A Google spokesperson told the American-Statesman that it "would be happy to pay for access at reasonable rates, just as we did in our initial buildout in Kansas City."

The city is hopeful that despite appearances to the contrary, the two will be able to work something out.

"After hard work, lots of meetings and tons of input--AT&T and Google agree to negotiate their issues with the city," Austin City Councilman Mike Martinez said in a Facebook posting, according to Ars Technica.

For more:
- Ars Technica ran this story

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