AT&T admits defeat in lawsuit it filed to stall Google Fiber
Judge dismissed AT&T’s lawsuit against Louisville, and company won’t appeal.
In February 2016, AT&T sued the local government in Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky to stop an ordinance that gives Google Fiber and other ISPs faster access to utility poles. A US District Court judge dismissed AT&T’s lawsuit in August of this year, when he determined that AT&T’s claims that the ordinance is invalid are false.
There was still the question of whether AT&T would appeal the ruling, but WDRB News and Louisville Business First both quoted AT&T spokespeople as saying that the company has decided not to appeal. (We contacted AT&T today to confirm this but haven’t heard back yet.)
Louisville’s ordinance created a One Touch Make Ready system that lets an ISP make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles itself instead of having to wait for other providers like AT&T to send work crews to move their own wires. Without such rules, the pole attachment process can take months, making it more difficult for new ISPs to compete against incumbents.
Google Fiber began taking signups in Louisville about two weeks ago. As it turns out, the Alphabet-owned ISP ended up burying the cables with a “microtrenching” strategy that is quicker than traditional underground fiber deployment.
Still, Google Fiber could take advantage of the new pole attachment process to hang its fiber cables as it spreads through the city. Google Fiber may also use its fixed wireless technology to connect Louisville homes.
Legal fights over One Touch Make Ready are not over. A lawsuit Charter filed against Louisville is still pending. Both AT&T and Comcast also filed suits against the Nashville metro government to stop a similar ordinance.
But Louisville’s victory over AT&T sends a message to other cities that “these problems can be dealt with at the local level,” Ted Smith, co-chairman of the Mayor’s Civic Innovation Advisory Council, said in the Louisville Business First article. “Local leadership can tackle these things and win.”