There’s a broadband battle going down in Kentucky.
Here it is, in brief: Yesterday, AT&T filed a lawsuit in Federal court to stifle a new measure in Louisville aimed at speeding up fiber optic Internet. The rule — called “One Touch Make Ready” — would let multiple providers readily tap utility poles in the city managed by broadband providers like AT&T. Google Fiber, an AT&T competitor that would benefit from that rule, recently listed Louisville as a potential new market.
Google Fiber is not very happy about AT&T’s lawsuit!
And it’s saying so publicly. In a Friday blog post, Chris Levendos, Fiber’s director of national deployment and operations, said the Alphabet unit was “disappointed” with AT&T’s suit.
Google Fiber stands with the City of Louisville and the other cities across the country that are taking steps to bring faster, better broadband to their residents. Such policies reduce cost, disruption, and delay, by allowing the work needed to prepare a utility pole for new fiber to be attached in as little as a single visit — which means more safety for drivers and the neighborhood. This work would be done by a team of contractors the pole owner itself has approved, instead of having multiple crews from multiple companies working on the same pole over weeks or months. One Touch Make Ready facilitates new network deployment by anyone — and that’s why groups representing communities and fiber builders support it, too.
AT&T said it is filing the suit because it believes utility regulation should be handled at state or Federal levels, not locally. “Louisville Metro Council’s recently passed ‘One Touch Make Ready’ Ordinance is invalid, as the city has no jurisdiction under federal or state law to regulate pole attachments,” an AT&T rep said. “We have filed an action to challenge the ordinance as unlawful.”
Local control of tech policy is a hot-button political issue. It’s also one that tech companies tend to use for competitive leverage, like Amazon and state taxes.
Google Fiber is going to the ropes here since the issue is so critical for its expansion plans. To move into places like Louisville, Fiber wants a nice runway that lets it lay network with minimal cost and hassle. Rivals like AT&T, tightly regulated companies that have plowed money into broadband networks, would probably find such a runway unfair.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.