FCC Lends Support To Google Fiber, Louisville In Fight To Access AT&T Utility Poles

from the beaten-by-bureaucracy dept

As we've been discussing, the hot new broadband battleground is the boring old utility pole. In most existing markets, a new competitor needs the incumbent ISP to move their gear and "make ready" the pole before a competitor can attach their own fiber. With every incentive to slow new competition, incumbent ISPs have long (ab)used this bureaucracy to their advantage. As a result, this preparation can take the better part of a year, especially if gear from multiple incumbents needs moving.

In a recent Google Fiber blog post, the company documented the end result of this logjam. In Nashville, the company noted that of the 88,000 poles in Nashville needed to deploy Google Fiber, over 44,000 will require make-ready work -- but only 33 had been adequately prepped by incumbent ISPs. In response, Google Fiber has been pushing cities like Nashville and Louisville to pass "one touch make ready" rules, which allow an insured, third-party contractor to move any ISP's gear (often a matter of inches), provided they give the incumbent ISP a 15-day heads up.

Unsurprisingly, the response from incumbent ISPs like AT&T and Comcast has been to breathlessly claim that their Constitutional rights are being violated, that Google Fiber is getting preferential treatment, and that these reform rules will result in a dramatic spike in internet outage (despite the fact that some incumbent ISPs often use these exact same contractors for pole work). They've also been quick to file lawsuits claiming that these cities are exceeding their authority and in some instances violating federal pole attachment rules.

In Kentucky, Google Fiber and Louisville this week got an unexpected ally in the FCC, which submitted a statement of interest (pdf) in Kentucky court effectively pointing out that AT&T and Comcast's arguments are nonsensical (at least in Kentucky). According to the FCC, while it does have federal pole attachment rules, Kentucky was one of 20 states to have opted out of those requirements in order to implement their own rules:
"BellSouth maintains in its motion for summary judgment that the Louisville Ordinance conflicts with, and is therefore preempted by, the federal pole-atachment rules promulgated by the Commission under Section 224. That argument is wrong as a mater of law. The federal pole-atachment regulations do not apply in Kentucky because Kentucky has filed a certification invoking reverse-preemption under Section 224(c) and has thereby opted out of the federal pole-atachment rules.
That said, AT&T's lawsuit against Louisville also claims that Louisville's new rules violate Kentucky state law. As we've long noted, companies like AT&T have so much influence on state legislatures that they're often allowed to quite literally write telecom law that specifically hinders competition, as they've done in states like Missouri and Tennessee, regarding municipal broadband. For those playing along at home, these are the same incumbent ISPs that whine endlessly about "burdensome regulations," unless they're the ones writing said regulations to hamstring competitors.

All told, this sort of bureaucratic protectionism is one of several reasons Google Fiber executives are pondering a pivot to next-generation wireless.

Filed Under: fcc, google fiber, louisville, one touch make ready, otmr, utility poles
Companies: at&t, comcast, google


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 6:46am

    Delay tactics

    The delay tactics from the ISP's seemed to work in getting Google to halt the fiber expansion.

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

  • icon
    Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile), 2 Nov 2016 @ 7:06am

    Given that the engineers are required to give 15 days notice I'm surprised that the ISPs haven't developed unmovable boxes that just happen to take up the entire poll to deploy the week before the work is scheduled to be done.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 7:16am

    Hey... it's the natural monopoly that the FCC agreed to so many decades ago!

    I am sure no one saw this shit coming!

    This is the price of corruption and regulation... asses getting bitten for decades after the fucks that made the decisions are dead!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 7:23am

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Nov 2nd, 2016 @ 7:16am

      Regulations put in place by the ISP's.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 7:38am

        Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Nov 2nd, 2016 @ 7:16am

        I would have said regulations "purchased" by the ISP's but yea! That would be about it!

        The FCC, AMA, FDA, and pretty much most of the other regulatory agencies are paid whores for those they regulate. How does this keep happening? Oh... that's right. "We The People" keep letting it.

        100% of the regulatory Agencies we create in government to PREVENT certain things from happening wind up working instead to insure that they do! I know people are bad at math but damn! That is a failure rate that only happens when all players are screwing it up.

        Politicians = corrupt
        Agencies = corrupt
        Citizens = bankrupt

        As long as we keep letting businesses do this, they have no reason to stop!

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 8:57am

          Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Nov 2nd, 2016 @ 7:16am

          And without regulation you get the robber barons. Democracy has two problems:-
          1) most people are not that interested in politics, so long as they can make their way through life.
          2) Those who stand for office are often not interested in representing the people, but rather ruling them for their own profit.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Nov 2016 @ 8:00am

    Anyone else expecting KY to rush through a special 'air rights' law stating that you have to pay high fees to access the airspace above towns? (Think of the air rights in NYC).

    Can totally see the monopolies quickly buying up these rights for cheap & demanding huge fees from Google to allow their signal to use the airspace.

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

  • identicon
    Pole Supplier, 2 Nov 2016 @ 8:27am

    Google Poles

    Why don't Google install their own poles? Would be a great local work and revenue generating project.

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

    • identicon
      Michael, 2 Nov 2016 @ 9:48am

      Re: Google Poles

      It's against the law.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 10:46am

      Re: Google Poles

      Because of all the routing conflicts and safety issues that arise because routes have to cross over each other. Utilities have agreed to the use of common poles not because of cost saving, but because it is about the only practical way of running cables, fibers etc. above ground.

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

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 2 Nov 2016 @ 9:25am

    Constitutional Rights

    Remember the US Constitution is very specific on its protection. As it starts out with "We the business." Not "We the people." I know, some argue otherwise, but that is because cursive writing is sloppy.

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


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