AT&T sues over Google Fibre proposal

29 February 2016 | Jason McGee-Abe

AT&T has filed an 11-page lawsuit in federal court against Louisville’s Metro Council, alleging it lacks jurisdiction to allow high-speed ISPs like Google Fibre to install equipment on its utility poles.

The majority of the poles in Louisville, Kentucky, US, which will play host to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump tomorrow, are currently owned by AT&T and Louisville Gas & Electric, with some officials estimating that AT&T own 25% - 40% of them.

At the heart of the case is the “one touch make ready” ordinance which city leaders passed to enable high-speed ISPs, such as Google Fibre, to install new equipment and wires on existing utility poles owned by AT&T. Despite protests from AT&T and Time Warner Cable, the measure was unanimously approved.

Mayor Greg Fischer’s office support the measure as it’s a way to lay the groundwork for Louisville’s fibre-optics network. "We will vigorously defend the lawsuit filed today by AT&T," Fischer said late Thursday evening. "Gigabit fibre is too important to our city's future."

"AT&T pursued this course of action because the Metro Council has no jurisdiction to regulate pole attachments," said AT&T spokesperson Joe Burgan, in an interview with USA Today. "Because of this, the ordinance is invalid."

However, despite AT&T stating that they’d welcome competition, they believe the ordinance violates a number of state and federal laws. They allege that it allows third parties to temporarily seize its property without consent and without prior notice.

AT&T Burgan said in the interview that Google Fibre and others could still attach their equipment to AT&T’s poles if they sign a licensing agreement.

"Google Fiber is disappointed that AT&T has gone to court in an effort to block Louisville's efforts to increase broadband and video competition," Google Fiber responded in a blog post. "We are confident the City's common-sense initiative will be upheld."