Competition? No way! AT&T says it will sue to keep Google Fiber out of Louisville, Kentucky

Telco files to block city from letting ad giant climb its poles


Updated AT&T is suing to block the city of Louisville from moving forward with its plan to bring in the Google Fiber service.

The telecoms giant filed a complaint [PDF] in federal court on Thursday seeking to prevent the Kentucky's largest city, and Jefferson County, from allowing Google's contractors to access utility poles in order to string fiber lines.

Earlier this month, the city passed an ordinance giving third party contractors, in this case contractors working for Google, right-of-way access to utility poles. The rule is seen as a vital component for launching the Google Fiber service in Louisville.

AT&T (along with Time Warner Cable) has argued against the ordinance, saying that the contractors could cause damage to their existing lines when stringing up the new cables.

Failing to win over the city's Metro Council in a vote, AT&T has now taken the matter to the US District Court for Western Kentucky, alleging that the city's ordinance violates FCC rules on pole access and that Metro Council acted outside of its legal authority in passing the ordinance.

"Under the new ordinance, where a third party seeks to attach equipment to a utility pole in the rights-of-way and AT&T already has lines or other equipment on the pole, the third party may remove, alter, and relocate AT&T’s facilities as it deems necessary," AT&T says in its filing.

"If the third party believes its work on AT&T’s facilities would not cause or reasonably be expected to cause a customer outage, the third party need not notify AT&T before conducting such work. If, on the other hand, the work would cause or reasonably be expected to cause a customer outage, the third party may proceed after giving AT&T thirty days notice."

AT&T is asking the court for an injunction barring the city from allowing the third-party contractors pole access.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has already vowed to fight:

No date for a hearing was given. ®

Updated to add

Google has issued a blog post in support of Louisville.

"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 says.

"We are confident the City's common-sense initiative will be upheld."


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