Google Fiber 'disappointed' by AT&T's pole access lawsuit, pledges to support Louisville

Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) may be facing a new obstacle to deliver FTTH service in Louisville, Ky., as AT&T (NYSE: T) sued the city to block legislation easing access to its utility poles, but the fiber competitor says it will support the city in finding a way to overcome the issue.

"Google Fiber is disappointed that AT&T has gone to court in an effort to block Louisville's efforts to increase broadband and video competition," said Google Fiber in a blog post. "We are confident the City's common-sense initiative will be upheld."

Earlier this month, the Louisville Metro Council voted to pass what's called the "One Touch Make Ready" rule that effectively streamlines the city's utility pole attachment process.

The new rules would allow new entrants like Google Fiber to install new equipment and wires on existing utility poles owned by AT&T, which along with Louisville Gas & Electric owns the majority of Louisville's utility poles.

"Such policies reduce cost, disruption, and delay, by allowing the work needed to prepare a utility pole for new fiber to be attached in as little as a single visit -- which means more safety for drivers and the neighborhood," Google said. "This work would be done by a team of contractors the pole owner itself has approved, instead of having multiple crews from multiple companies working on the same pole over weeks or months."

On Friday, AT&T said it was suing Louisville, arguing that the city does not have the right to dictate how its utility poles can be used.

For its part, AT&T maintains the lawsuit isn't about Google Fiber, but rather about the city "exceeding its authority."

The telco said that it is not trying to block Google Fiber and others from attaching their facilities to the telco's poles, but it will require these providers to enter into a licensing agreement like it has done in other cities where it owns utility poles.

Louisville is only one city where Google Fiber has fought with AT&T over utility pole access. The service provider faced a similar issue with AT&T in Austin, Texas, in 2013. AT&T, which owns about 20 percent of the utility poles in Austin, said it doesn't have to provide access to Google Fiber.

For more:
- see Google Fiber's blog post

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