Cox sues Tempe, Ariz., says city gave Google Fiber concessions

As Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) looks to bring its 1 Gbps FTTH service to consumers and businesses in Tempe, Ariz. it is facing a new legal fight with cable Cox Communications.

In a lawsuit filed Monday  in the U.S. District Court in Arizona, Cox claims that the local government developed what it calls a regulatory framework that exempts Google Fiber from obligations imposed on cable operators for its planned fiber rollout in the city.

According to a report in ars technica, Cox said that Tempe created a new license category for "video service providers" which use fiber-based networks instead of coax cable.

Google Fiber may use fiber to deliver video, but according to the FCC rules it is still considered a cable operator.  

"Tempe's bald assertion that Google Fiber is not a cable operator is incorrect," Cox said in its lawsuit. "And based on this incorrect assertion, Tempe's regulatory scheme allows Google Fiber to provide video programming service to subscribers in Tempe under terms and conditions that are far more favorable and far less burdensome than those applicable to Cox and other cable operators, even though Cox and Google Fiber offer video services that are legally indistinguishable."

Further, the cable MSO said that that the licensing system will exempt Google from FCC consumer protection obligations for service quality, information and billing. Cox also asked the court to reject Tempe's new regulations and the license it awarded to Google Fiber.

"The Google Fiber License imposes no obligation on Google Fiber to comply with the FCC standards regarding customer service, including response times, installation timeframes, and requirements regarding communication with customers and local authorities about the services provided, and when changes in services or rates occur," Cox said.

Google has made no bones that it favors building out in cities where there is a favorable regulatory environment and a streamlined process to get permits to hang fiber on existing utility poles and access to other rights-of-way.

An earlier report in The Arizona Republic said that after the Phoenix City Council granted Google Fiber an operating license, it would give existing service providers CenturyLink and Cox the right to update their existing licenses.

"Council members stressed the need for fair treatment of existing Phoenix providers Cox Communications and CenturyLink," reported The Arizona Republic. "The council's vote means both will have the opportunity to renegotiate their licenses with the city."

For more:
- ars technica has this article

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