Frontier Backs AT&T's Lawsuit To Keep Google Fiber Out Of Louisville

from the defenders-of-the-status-quo dept

Earlier this year, we noted how companies like AT&T and Time Warner Cable were engaged in incessant whining about Google Fiber's planned entry into Louisville, Kentucky. More specifically, the ISPs were upset that Louisville passed "one touch make ready" fiber rules that dramatically speed up fiber deployment times by letting licensed third-party contractors move other ISPs' equipment when necessary. Such reforms generally help all ISPs by dramatically reducing the time it takes to deploy fiber infrastructure, often by as much as half a year.

The Fiber To The Home Council recently proclaimed (.doc) such reforms are a great way to streamline existing regulations and speed up fiber deployment nationwide:
"One touch make-ready policies are an effective and equitable way to reduce the disruption and inconvenience that come from work by multiple pole construction crews. One touch policies allow any communications service provider putting new attachments on a pole to perform all make-ready work that does not result in a customer outage, using contractors from a list approved by the utility pole owner. One touch is efficient because a single construction crew —a crew with enough skill and experience to be approved by the pole owner itself—is all that is needed to complete pole make-ready to deploy new broadband facilities."
AT&T traditionally loves to complain about "burdensome regulations" at any and every opportunity (even given the fact its lawyers often write state telecom law). But when said burdensome regulations defend the status quo, you'll note the company's tune changes dramatically. In Louisville, first the mega-ISPs tried to claim that their Constitutional rights were being violated. When that didn't work, AT&T filed a lawsuit claiming that such rules would only hurt consumers by disrupting existing broadband service.

Several months later and Frontier has now filed a brief in support of AT&T's lawsuit (free registration required), despite the fact that the ISP doesn't even offer broadband service in Louisville or the state of Kentucky. Frontier's obviously just worried that the menacing specter of increased competition could spread into its territories, so like AT&T, the brief tries desperately to portray one-touch-make-ready rules as a huge threat to stable service:
"The Ordinance strips the utility pole owner of the right to negotiate key terms of access that are designed to minimize disruption and delay to the consumer," Frontier says in its brief. "These terms not only protect the public, but they also safeguard the pole owner’s rights and equipment, as well as the rights and equipment of already existing attachers."
Except that's nonsense, and ISPs have a long, rich history of using utility pole regulations to try and block competition. Again, these reforms benefit everybody building networks, not just Google Fiber. We're also not talking about some random, drunk yahoo climbing utility poles to tug on expensive telecom equipment. Under the rules all parties agree to a licensed, insured third-party contractor to do the work, the installer must give ISPs notification of any scheduled work, and the work can only proceed if the installers don't get a response from the gear owner within thirty days.

Such pole attachment reforms help everybody -- except giant incumbent ISPs, who'd prefer things remain as uncompetitive as possible. AT&T's lawsuit is little more than a giant advertisement for Google Fiber, and for AT&T and Frontier's absolute terror at the possibility of actually having to compete.

Filed Under: broadband, fiber
Companies: at&t, frontier, google


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  • identicon
    David, 5 Jul 2016 @ 6:51am

    Not Kentucky, but...

    They do serve some Verizon areas near Dallas - which is on the map for Google Fiber. That might be a little too close to their home.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:01am

    Strange

    I live in a town of 2600 people..
    We are a HUB city/town..in 10 miles in each direction is another town..
    20 and 30 miles east are 2 developed cities..
    Total of over 40,000 people

    There are 3 fiber optic lines intersecting in this small town..
    AND we still dont have fiber.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:13am

      Re: Strange

      A large national natural gas pipeline passes under our premises. In case of a leak, they might tear down a barn. Guess who doesn't get natural gas for cooking purposes as utility.

      Too few people here for a tap, and I don't even think this thing is intended for tapping: it's probably point to point.

      You may not have fiber, but at least your barns are safe.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 8:47am

        Re: Re: Strange

        That is possible but unlikely. They wouldn't run single strand of fiber through. You are looking at at least 6 pairs per run. Likely 12 pairs and probably only a few pairs that are lit. It wouldn't be expensive to tap either. The expensive part would be getting the junction point built so that it could be delived to other houses. I have hired a local ISP to do runs from utility poles to connect multiple buildings together on a private network.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:09am

    So they want the poles all to themselves. *giggles*

    Naughty AT&T!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:36am

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    To protect the monopoly, we must file papers in a case where we have no horse in the race... other than to protect our monopoly position of screwing consumers when they come for us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 8:53am

      Re: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

      The tragedy here is that it takes a very large corporation with deep pockets, like Google, to maybe overcome the huge political and regulatory barriers required to enter a new market. A small startup ISP wouldn't stand a chance against the political and regulatory influence that a large incumbent has. Shows how corrupt our system is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2016 @ 10:19am

    The greatest tragedy of all in this situation is that it is costing more for towns and cities to deal with all the problems then it would have been to just run fiber as a utility.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sharatan, 5 Jul 2016 @ 11:46am

    Pole owner’s rights

    OK, so move your poles out of the public utility easements. But as long as you use those easements, you need to play by the rules. Kind of like "automobile owner's rights." It may be your car, but if you're going to drive it on public roads you need to follow the rules.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    a noncow, 5 Jul 2016 @ 3:52pm

    The Occaisonal Virtue Of A Small Telco

    East of Louisville, in the rural counties, small telcos hold the local markets. One such has pulled fiber to everyone who wanted it in their service are... a sparsely populated, relatively poor region (Wolfe, Morgan, Menifee & Elliot counties) has gotten services that the largest most affluent city in the Commonwealth hasn't.

    Interesting, huh? The big telcos don't think much about local welfare.

    Life in the country is better with an affordable uncapped fiber service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ren, 5 Jul 2016 @ 5:02pm

    2 worst ISPs, no surprise here.

    Basically nobody has heard of Frontier, but they're the worst and they want you to know it.
    AT&T is #2 worst.

    Both should be sued into the ground and shut down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Eldakka (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 5:28pm

    2 words.

    Eminent Domain.

    Utility poles are critical public infrastructure and as such perhaps should be owned by the state rather than the utility companies, as it is likely, as in many places, that the poles themselves are erected on public land or other land that is not actually owned by the utility pole carriers.

    Other alternatives: start charging rent to the utility pole companies, with a rent-waiver or reduction if they allow the access as per the "one touch make ready" requirements.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Whatever (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 5:47pm

      Re: 2 words.

      Yeah, every time I hear the "make it state owned" I think of all of the things the government fucks up every day, and wonder why the hell you would want them running anything?

      For Techdirt fans, consider a national utility run by the TSA to provide internet service. The end, argument over!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 7 Jul 2016 @ 5:56am

        Re: Re: 2 words.

        Sweep up the straw, please, Whatever, it's getting everywhere. Municipal ownership would solve the problem. Such entities are small enough to be effectively held to account by local populations.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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