AT&T Sues To Keep Google Fiber Competition Out Of Louisville
from the delay-tactics dept
While this is in effect the "reduction of burdensome regulations" most telecom execs spend the better part of an adult life crying for, in this case local incumbent broadband providers AT&T and Time Warner Cable whined like petulant children about Louisville's decision, because it would force them to seriously compete in the market. Time Warner Cable went so far as to claim Louisville's decision violated the company's Constitutional rights.
AT&T being AT&T, the company has also now filed a federal lawsuit (pdf), claiming that Louisville lacks the authority to make those kinds of decisions:
"Louisville Metro Council’s recently passed 'One Touch Make Ready' Ordinance is invalid, as the city has no jurisdiction under federal or state law to regulate pole attachments. We have filed an action to challenge the ordinance as unlawful. Google can attach to AT&T’s poles once it enters into AT&T’s standard Commercial Licensing Agreement, as it has in other cities. This lawsuit is not about Google. It’s about the Louisville Metro Council exceeding its authority."Of course it has everything to do with Google, and delaying the company's deployment of a service that would force AT&T into the strange position of having to compete on price and speed.
According to AT&T, only the Kentucky Public Service Commission and the Federal Communications Commission can make those kinds of decisions. AT&T lawyers trying to argue FCC's jurisdictional authority is amusing, given AT&T's spent the better part of the last decade trying to argue the regulator has no authority over broadband whatsoever. AT&T's worry about legal procedure is equally entertaining, given that this is a company that in the last few years has been busted for defrauding the deaf, defrauding the poor, and defrauding its own customers by making it easier for crammers to rip them off.
For good measure, AT&T's also claiming that letting third-party contractors touch its utility poles and gear would cause "irreparable harm":
AT&T alleges in the suit that the city ordinance allows third parties to temporarily seize its property without consent and in most circumstances without prior notice. "Unless the court declares the ordinance invalid and permanently enjoins Louisville Metro from enforcing it, AT&T will suffer irreparable harm that cannot be addressed by recovery of damages."Of course, by "seizing" AT&T's property, AT&T actually means "letting a company move our gear a few inches" so other people can use the poles. AT&T's real goal, of course, is to bog Google Fiber down in lawsuits so the telco can get a head start in locking locals down in long-term contracts. That's a lot easier than actually upgrading its network and competing with a new market entry.