Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has called on Comcast, AT&T and Google Fiber to meet and discuss a solution to their local pole-attachment issues.
Just as it has in Louisville, Kentucky, Google Fiber is trying to circumvent cumbersome rules for attaching fiber-optic cables to local telephone poles by introducing an ordinance to city government called “One Touch Make Ready.” AT&T, which is battling Google over the same ordinance in Louisville alongside local cable franchise holder Charter Communications, is siding with Comcast in Nashville.
In Nashville, Mayor Barry isn’t taking sides. But she has called on the top executive for the company that owns and operates 80 percent of the local utility poles – Nashville Electric Service President and CEO Decosta Jenkins – along with Metro Department of Law Director Jon Cooper to get the three sides in a room together.
"High-speed broadband service is critical to the city of Nashville's future," said Barry, in a Monday memo obtained by local paper the Tenneassean. “A resolution to this issue that is fair to all will only benefit our citizens.”
Representatives for Google Fiber, AT&T and Comcast convened before Nashville City Council members Monday, lobbying for a vote that was supposed to happen Tuesday, but which got pushed back to Sept. 6.
Google Fiber said it can’t wait around for months while AT&T and Comcast deploy technicians to make room for Google fiber-optic cables on local poles. AT&T and Comcast reps, meanwhile, made arguments based on safety and liability concerns.
Chris Levendos, head of network deployment and operations of Google Fiber, told the city council that not passing the ordinance would mean that Google Fiber might bypass Nashville.
“Worst-case scenario is either elongation or it just ceases to happen,” Levendos said.
Meanwhile, Joelle Phillips, president of AT&T Tennessee, told the council that the city’s pole attachment policies exist for a reason.
“We appreciate your interest in letting us talk to each other to work it out, and we hope that you recognize that this is not a process that is needlessly complex,” Phillips said. “It’s a process where people can get hurt when things aren’t done correctly. Service gets interrupted when things aren’t done correctly.”
Google Fiber’s ability to get One Touch Make Ready passed in another market beyond Louisville is being watched closely by incumbent ISP operators, who have lately felt emboldened in regard to Google’s upstart telecom service.
Speaking at the Nomura’s 2016 Media, Telecom & Internet Conference Tuesday, Marcien Jenckes, executive VP of consumer services for Comcast Cable, said the growth of Google Fiber “has been slower than what a lot of people initially anticipated.
“We’re every good competitors,” he said. “We’re not going to roll over. We have very competitive products, and we’re going to compete very hard for share. That may have surprised some people.”
- read this Tennessean story
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