AT&T sues Louisville, Ky. to block Google Fiber from gaining pole access

AT&T (NYSE: T) is suing the city of Louisville, Ky., arguing that the city does not have the right to dictate how its utility poles can be used, reflecting a move to thwart Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) from bringing its service to the city.

At issue is the "One Touch Make Ready" ordinance that city leaders voted to pass earlier this month designed to streamline the city's utility pole attachment process.

The ordinance, says AT&T, violate a number of state and federal laws.

"AT&T pursued this course of action because the Metro Council has no jurisdiction to regulate pole attachments," Joe Burgan, an AT&T spokesman said in an interview with USA Today. "Because of this, the ordinance is invalid."

Under the terms of the new ordinance, which faced heavy protest from AT&T and Time Warner Cable, emerging service providers like Google Fiber can install new equipment and wires on existing utility poles owned by AT&T. The majority of the poles in Louisville are owned by AT&T and Louisville Gas & Electric.

AT&T has asked a federal judge to clarify that the authority to regulate poles is reserved to the Kentucky Public Service Commission and the FCC in an 11-page suit.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's office would not comment on the suit to USA Today.

Fischer's office declined to discuss the suit, saying it does not comment on pending litigation. Claims made in a lawsuit represent only one side of a case.

Burgan said AT&T is not opposed to letting Google Fiber and others attach their facilities to the telco's poles, but it will require them to enter into a licensing agreement like it has done in other cities where it owns utility poles.

"This lawsuit is not about Google," Burgan said. "It's about the Louisville Metro Council exceeding its authority."

Louisville is just of several markets where Google Fiber and AT&T have been battling to get a piece of the FTTH broadband market. In other markets like Austin and Nashville, AT&T also announced plans to deliver its 1 Gbps service.

More recently, the service provider dismissed Google Fiber's agreement to bring 1 Gbps to Huntsville, Ala. in 2017 via an agreement with the city's main electric utility to leverage its soon to be built FTTH network.

AT&T, which revealed plans to deliver service to Huntsville in December 2015, said in an AL.com article that "it takes us less than a year from the time we announce AT&T GigaPower plans for a new metro to when we are installing service for our customers." 

For more:
- USA Today has this article

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