AT&T Sues Nashville To Keep Google Fiber At Bay
from the utterly-terrified-of-competition dept
But again, because this would speed up Google Fiber's time to market, incumbent ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, Frontier and Time Warner Cable have all been fighting these reform efforts. Excuses provided by the ISPs range from claims that such reform violates their Constitutional rights, to unsubstantiated claims that such a policy would result in massive new internet service outages. AT&T has taken things one step further, and has been suing cities like Louisville for passing such reform laws.
After the city council voted to approve similar reform last week in Nashville, AT&T has now filed suit against the city of Nashville (pdf), claiming city overreach and immediate injunctive relief. The complaint trots out all of AT&T's greatest hits for opposing the streamlined pole attachment rules, including claims that it allows random troublemakers to "seize" AT&T's property:
"The Ordinance thus purports to permit a third party (the Attacher) to temporarily seize AT&T’s property, and to alter or relocate AT&T’s property, without AT&T’s consent and with little notice. AT&T would be deprived of an adequate opportunity to assess the potential for network disruption caused by the alteration or relocation, and to specify and oversee the work on AT&T’s own facilities to ensure any potential for harm to its network, including harm to the continuity and quality of service to its customers, is minimized."Except that's not true. Most implementations of "one touch make ready" give ISPs ample warning of impending work. Meanwhile, Google Fiber currently needs to wait for incumbent ISPs to prepare the poles for attachment -- a process that can take as long as 9 months if the incumbent ISP has an incentive to stall the process (worse if Google Fiber has to wait for multiple ISPs working in concert). That's something that Google Fiber documented in a blog post recently that has been a real problem in Nashville, where just 33 of the approximately 44,000 poles in the city have been prepared for Google Fiber work.
From Texas to California, AT&T has been accused for years of using its control over city utility poles as yet another avenue to discourage broadband competition. And the telco is surely furious somebody is finally doing something about it in Tennessee, a state whose legislature is so eager to protect AT&T's monopoly it effectively lets the telco write awful state law. Hell, Nashville's city council last week even had the gall to shoot down a Comcast and AT&T written proposal that would have bogged Google Fiber down in committee for months.
Of course these incumbent ISPs know they can't win. Pole attachment is generally supported by communities, many tech associations and government alike, all collectively tired of AT&T's stranglehold over the status quo. But the goal isn't to stop deployment but to slow it down, giving incumbent ISPs more time to not only lock down existing customers into long-term contracts, but to fuel ongoing rumors that Google Fiber is out of its depth.