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.

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  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 6 Oct 2016 @ 6:51am

    Charter wants true competition

    "Charter Confusications wants true competition", said Sally Doublespeak, public spokesdroid. "All we want is for Google to be required to match the kind of bandwidth, throttling, data caps, pricing and customer service that customers have come to depend on from Charter Confusications."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2016 @ 7:07am

    The law is not a tool of corporate domination, or at least it was not intended .... ahhh well - on second thought, never mind.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2016 @ 8:03am

      Re:

      lol.... exactly. This is NOT the first or the last time we will see law being used as a corporate bludgeon.

      This is why the Founding Fathers of America setup a free-market economy. We have long turned it into something else entirely. While it is true that as long as there is an iota of government involvement with economy it cannot be truly free, but we can certainly get very close to it will only implementing strong anti-trust & anti-monopoly laws/regulation ONLY.

      Right now we are in the midst of very strong regulatory capture environment. Sadly most people are not functionally capable of even realizing. Like a person that grows up in a fucked up society... they have no idea how fucked up they are until they step back and look at ALL the fucking insanity going on.

      I do not think Americans are even comprehending more than 10% or at most 20% of what is going wrong.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2016 @ 8:06am

        Re: Re:

        Oh yeah - the free market savior, that will fix everything - LOL

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2016 @ 8:22am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You say that while staring down the destruction that regulation has caused?

          Free Market gave America its financial supremacy. There is maybe 1% or less of the population old enough that has seen a free market. We are long, LONG fucking gone from those times.

          How about instead you tell me how regulation is saving anything? Hard to do so with so much bullshit proving you otherwise, but it will not stop you or others from being ignorant about it.

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

      • icon
        Padpaw (profile), 6 Oct 2016 @ 10:24am

        Re: Re:

        The term Kleptocracy comes to mind

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2016 @ 11:05am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Indeed, regulation agencies wind up becoming more of a shopping mall for kleptocrats. The very mechanisms/regulations/agencies we are asking for are actually being usurped. Instead they provide safe havens for the kleptocrats to operate and shield themselves from public and government scrutiny.

          The US Government is straight up "for sale" and the Americans are ONLY voting in more Salespeople.

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

          • identicon
            I Love Capitalism, 6 Oct 2016 @ 1:01pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The US Government is straight up "for sale"

            Uh, so? I mean, it's a free market, isn't it? Don't we have the best politicians money can buy?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2016 @ 12:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Kleptocracy, Corporatocracy, what's the difference?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2016 @ 12:53pm

        Re: Re:

        lol.... exactly. This is NOT the first or the last time we will see law being used as a corporate bludgeon.

        Ultimately enforced at the end of a gun by gangs of highway robbers with badges.

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

  • icon
    MadAsASnake (profile), 6 Oct 2016 @ 7:08am

    Pretty sure Charter don't want the same deal as Google - that would entail them providing meaningful broadband. They don't want to do that hence the tantrums.

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

  • icon
    radix (profile), 6 Oct 2016 @ 9:32am

    A more appropriate analogy

    Instead of Google getting to shoot the ball from a shorter distance, this seems closer to reality:

    Google is the new kid on the team who is getting the ball more often at the expense of the previous "star" (really, the only one who can even dribble the ball without turning it over): the coach's kid (Charter). The coach wants to win, and his kid wouldn't be considered good enough to make most other teams, but there's no real competition here. So he's instructed his guys to get the ball to Google.

    Now the whiny, entitled brat is bitching to the crowd that his scoring average is reduced, even though he's not playing any worse (if that were even possible). He's been around longer, and his group of friends don't think it's fair, but much of the crowd can see the difference, so there aren't many sympathetic ears.

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

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 6 Oct 2016 @ 10:23am

    Truly amazing how corporations like charter think suing will somehow magically make the facts that they have intentionally failed to follow through on their contracts vanish when this comes to court.

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

  • identicon
    zippy, 6 Oct 2016 @ 10:58am

    Like the old commercial says...

    If you don't get screwed at Charter, please... get screwed somewhere.

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

  • identicon
    Chucky Cheezy, 6 Oct 2016 @ 2:54pm

    It's stifling competition plain and simple.

    Cities like Louisville and Nashville depend on telephone poles for most all communications lines because of the geology underground and the urban structure above can make trenching and tunneling difficult, expensive and unpredictable. For a new franchise to move in, it must be able to get timely access to poles. In the case of Nashville, Google needs 44,000 poles made ready before they can hang their gear. One year after requesting poles be made ready only 32 poles out of 44000 were made ready. Of course AT&T is the main reason for the delay. Thus for technology to progress, a new process needs to be in place for making a pole ready for access. In the case of One Touch Make Ready, it would be licensed linemen selected for Make ready work. They could even be AT&T workers or Charter, or Fishel, or other licensed workers but they would take order for Make ready from the City, and not competing companies. So there is now excuse for AT&T, Charter, Frontier and the like for objecting to OTMR as it helps them out as well. OTMR is not google legislation. It's technology innovation and fair access to polls legislation.

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

  • identicon
    Chucky Cheezy, 7 Oct 2016 @ 11:23am

    Lawsuit update.

    Wow. This is getting good. A flurry of activity just happened in the AT&T vs Louisville OTMR lawsuit. Louisville just filed a Cross motion for summary judgement against AT&T and a response to AT&T's Motion for Summary judgement. The Google Fiber filed a request to prepare an Amicus Brief in Opposition to AT&T's motion for summary judgement and in favor Louisville's Cross motion for Summary Judgement.
    Then comes the hammer. Google Fiber brings in 3 Lawyers to side with Louisville Uzelac, Devine, and Simeone. It looks like the next thing to expect is AT&T's response 10/24 to Louisville's response to AT&T's motion for summary judgement. Then AT&T reply is due 10/31 to the Cross motion.

    So the slug fest will continue. In the end, I suspect AT&T, Charter, and Frontier will all be forced to accept OTMR or other legislation to share the poles and be nice neighbors to new market entries.

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

    • identicon
      Chucky Cheezy, 7 Oct 2016 @ 8:33pm

      Re: Lawsuit update.

      I was just trying to wonder what the end game would be like if there was competition for pole access on city right of ways. There is only a limited amount of aerial space available on the poles, so I can foresee a time when aerial space is auctioned off just like the frequency of the radio spectrum. This could really make municipalities a lot of money if they control the aerial space on a telephone pole. This could really get interesting on poles that have 20 companies wanting to hang fiber, but there is only space for 5. Seems like a great way to solve the standoff between AT&T and Google Fiber.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2016 @ 1:42pm

        Re: Re: Lawsuit update.

        This could really make municipalities a lot of money if they control the aerial space on a telephone pole.

        Unfortunately, most local governments have already given that away to the incumbents. In other words, most people have already been sold out by their local governments. All they can do now is bend over and take it.

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


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