Charter Joins AT&T In Using Lawsuits To Try And Slow Down Google Fiber
from the glass-mansions dept
For decades, incumbent broadband ISPs have all but owned state legislatures, often to the point where they’re quite literally allowed to write awful state law that actively harms state consumers. That’s why it has proven amusing to see these same ISPs cry like petulant children at Google Fiber’s disruption of the uncompetitive broadband market. AT&T, for example, has sued Louisville and Nashville for passing pole attachment reform that would speed up broadband deployment, all while claiming that doing so gives Google Fiber an unfair advantage.
Enter freshly-mega-merged Charter Communications, which has also now filed a different lawsuit against Louisville (pdf) under a Charter-owned subsidiary named Insight Kentucky Partners II — claiming that its Constitutional rights are being violated. Why? Because Lousiville struck a better franchise deal with Google Fiber than the one Charter signed years ago. Charter tries to defend saddling Louisville with a lawsuit using basketball metaphors in comments to the Louisville Courier Journal:
“The current situation is like requiring the University of Louisville to use the NBA 3-point line, while its opponents use the closer college line,” said Mike Pedelty, a Charter spokesman. “More burdensome regulation inevitably means a higher cost to do business and ultimately higher prices for customers. We’re simply asking the court to ensure the equal treatment state and federal law require.”
Here’s the thing though: Google Fiber got a better franchise deal from the city because it asked for it — and because it promised to deliver gigabit broadband competition to the city. There’s a reason cities are throwing themselves (and better deals) at Google Fiber, and Charter hopes you’ll forget it’s because Charter just doesn’t try very hard thanks to little competition and the regulatory capture it spent 30 years lobbying for. Charter could negotiate a better deal once its current franchise contract expires, but hopes that legal threats will allow the cable giant to get out of its obligations more quickly.
Charter’s lawsuit also again tries to claim that pole attachment reform — often used by incumbent ISPs as yet another way to slow new market entrants (there’s more detail here) — will cause all manner of horrible technical and PR harm to larger ISPs:
The One-Touch procedures also could allow Insight?s competitors (intentionally or unintentionally) to damage or disrupt Insight?s ability to serve its customers, creating an inaccurate perception in the market about Insight?s service quality and harming its goodwill. These procedures also threaten public safety as Insight is responsible for providing service to critical infrastructure in Louisville Metro, in addition to its customers? access to 911 and other emergency services. And they intrude upon the exclusive jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission of Kentucky to regulate the use of privately-owned utility poles.
It’s certainly understandable that Charter wants the same deal that Google Fiber is getting, and it’s all but inevitable it would have gotten it. But it’s disingenuous and obnoxious to spend a generation lobbying for and enjoying regulatory capture — only to whine once an actual competitor comes to town and begins dismantling the status quo. Charter could just get to work competing with Google Fiber — but as one of the least liked companies in any industry in America — it apparently feels that it makes much more sense to whine and litigate.