Federal Communications Commission defends Louisville's 'Google F - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Federal Communications Commission defends Louisville's 'Google Fiber' utility pole law

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An AT&T worker installs fiber-optic cable off Goldsmith Lane in Louisville, Oct. 18, 2016. An AT&T worker installs fiber-optic cable off Goldsmith Lane in Louisville, Oct. 18, 2016.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Federal Communications Commission has sided with Louisville Metro government in the city's court fight against AT&T over an ordinance that seeks to make it easier for new broadband providers like Google Fiber to access utility poles.

In a statement filed Monday in federal court, the FCC's top lawyer said Louisville's so-called "one touch, make ready" ordinance does not conflict with the federal agency's pole-attachment regulations.

The FCC's statement undercuts one of the legal arguments advanced by AT&T, which is asking a federal judge to invalidate Louisville's ordinance because it conflicts with state and federal regulations.

The Louisville Metro Council passed the ordinance in February in an attempt to pave the way for Google to bring its ultra-fast Internet and TV service to the city.

The ordinance would allow new providers like Google to move and rearrange the wiring and equipment of other providers like AT&T on poles at the same time the new wires are attached.

Supporters have said the law will reduce delays and disruption as new providers won't have to wait on their incumbent competitors to move their equipment, and the work can be done with one crew per pole instead of many.

But AT&T said it worries about damage to its equipment -- in which it has invested millions of dollars -- and service disruptions if other companies are allowed to do the work in a way that doesn't conform to its standards.

Joe Burgan, an AT&T spokesman, declined to comment on the FCC filing Monday.

The closely watched case has implications beyond Louisville. In September, Nashville passed its own one-touch make-ready law, drawing lawsuits from AT&T and from Comcast.

In its statement, the FCC said Louisville's ordinance does not run afoul of federal regulations because Kentucky is one of 22 states that have chosen to regulate utility poles at the state level.

Even so, one-touch make-ready laws do not conflict with federal pole-attachment rules and are, in fact, encouraged by agency, the FCC said.

"Historically, restrictions on access to utility poles have been a significant impediment to the deployment of competitive telecommunications services," the FCC said.  

Google Fiber says it still plans to bring its service to Louisville despite putting other cities on hold as it re-evaluates its business model. 

Google Fiber filed its own "friend of the court" brief earlier this month in support of the Louisville ordinance, and AT&T is fighting Google's intervention in the case.

Meanwhile AT&T has been wiring the Jefferson and surrounding counties for its own AT&T Fiber service -- which offers similarly fast speeds -- and it is already available to some customers.

The FCC's filing is below:

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