Google Fiber gains support from Level 3 in utility pole attachment battle in Nashville

A Google Fiber contractor prepares to install wiring on a utility pole in this screencap from a promotional video.

Level 3 Communications has sided with Google Fiber in an ongoing dispute over how to attach broadband network wiring on utility poles in Nashville, reported The Tennessean.

“Level 3 now supports the ordinance, and we appreciate the time that both Level 3 and Google Fiber took to constructively work together,” wrote Nashville city councilmen Anthony Davis and Jeremy Elrod in a letter to council members.

The city council is scheduled to vote next week on the “One Touch Make Ready” legislation. The proposed ordinance would allow Google Fiber to move existing Comcast and AT&T cables itself on utility poles owned by Nashville Electric Services (NES). This would circumvent the old make-ready rules that require Google Fiber to notify NES of the need to make space for its cables, only to have NES contact AT&T and Comcast to execute the actual work. 

Google has argued for the change -- and is now backed by Level 3, which builds fiber networks in locations across the country. Indeed, Google Fiber has threatened to abandon its Nashville buildout entirely if the pole attachment rules aren’t changed.

On the opposite side of the issue stands AT&T, which has argued that Nashville and other cities do not have jurisdiction to regulate pole attachments.

Underlying the issue is a nationwide contract between Google Fiber and AT&T for the telco to attach Google’s network to the poles the telco owns. However, AT&T looks at each attachment process city by city.

According to The Tennessean, AT&T representatives have urged Nashville legislators to delay a vote on the issue so that NES, AT&T and Comcast can work on methods to improve the internet installation process.

Of course, hovering above the battle in Nashville is the broader fight between Google Fiber and entrenched telco operators like AT&T and Verizon, and cable operators like Comcast. Google's entry into the broadband access market has stirred up a significant amount of concern by operators that have previously faced little direct competition. Indeed, in a recent post to the company’s website, AT&T’s Joan Marsh argued that Google has benefited from a range of loosened regulations, but has largely failed to provide widespread internet services to Americans.

For more:
- see this Tennessean article

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