Comcast in talks with Nashville utility on new pole-attachment deal

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As it fights alongside AT&T in Nashville, Tennessee, to keep Google Fiber from creating municipally sanctioned short cuts on pole attachment, Comcast is quietly trying to ease its own pole attachment issues with the utility company that controls the local poles.

According to local paper the Tennessean, reps for the MSO are in talks with pole owner Nashville Electric Service (NES) on a revised contract that would ease delays on attaching new lines to utility poles.

“Comcast and I have talked and we are looking at modifying the infrastructure use agreement,” said NES CEO Decosta Jenkins said.

At a recent Nashville Metro Council committee hearing, Comcast executives said it takes as many as 100 days to receive permitting for pole attachment work.

NES disputes that claim. The utility told the Council that Comcast had submitted more than 3,000 applications in June, well in excess of the 100 poles per each 30 days outlined in its contract with NES. 

The talks between Comcast and NES come as the MSO and AT&T have contested Google Fiber’s attempt to bypass negotiations with NES and pass an ordinance called “One Touch Make Ready” through the Metro Council. 

Earlier this month, a Nashville-based Comcast lobbyist called out a Google Fiber representative’s comments that the service provider could pull out of the market altogether if the city does not change its pole attachment policy.

A letter from lobbyist James Weaver to two Nashville Metro Council committee members challenged remarks made by Chris Levendos, head of network deployment and operations of Google Fiber. Levendos, according to a report in the Tennessean, told the Nashville city council during a special joint council committee meeting that not passing the ordinance could prompt Google Fiber bypass Nashville.

“Worst-case scenario is either elongation or it just ceases to happen,” Levendos said. 

Weaver said that Comcast is “is eager and ready to meet to work toward a negotiated solution” to iron out a more efficient pole attachment process to accelerate new broadband roll outs.

“Comcast has had serious pole attachment issues with NES for years,” Weaver said. “That's not a secret. NES representatives talked about the same Monday night. Not ONCE in all these years has Comcast said, ‘fix this or we will pick up and leave.’ This despite the fact that NES issues have cost Comcast millions and resulted in lost customers and damaged business-to-business relationships.”

For more:
- read this Tennessean story

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