Google Fiber wins utility pole access rights

By:
Jason McGee-Abe
Published on:

Google Fiber is one step closer to gaining faster access to utility poles in Nashville after Metro Council officials preliminary approved the “One Touch Make Ready” ordinance opposed by rival ISPs AT&T and Comcast

Google Fiber logoThe vote is a major win for Google Fiber, which launched in Nashville in April but has stated that it hasn't had access to 44,000 poles in the city. It has blamed its slow expansion in part to waiting for other carriers to perform "make ready" ordinance that would authorise it to get access and attach wires to utility poles. These ISPs must first move their own wires to make the pole ready for any new additions. 

"Of the 88,000 poles we need to attach Google Fiber to throughout Nashville, over 44,000 will require make ready work," Google Fiber had said. Nearly 9,800 poles have been "approved" for make ready work, "but so far, only 33 poles have been made ready."

"We're pleased that Nashville Metro Council supports Council Member [Anthony] Davis’ proposal for a 21st century framework, 32-7," said Chris Levendos, director of national deployment and operations for Google Fiber.

"Improving the make-ready construction process is key to unlocking access to a faster internet for Nashville, and this ordinance will allow new entrants like Google Fiber to bring broadband to more Nashvillians efficiently, safely and quickly. We look forward to continuing our work with NES and other attachers to bring our service to more homes and businesses in Nashville, faster."

Last week, AT&T took a swipe at Google, heaping derision on the tech giant’s rollout of its own Google Fiber infrastructure, and claiming building broadband infrastructure is “tough”. According to reports in the Nashville Business Journal, Metro’s law director, Jon Cooper had said if the vote passed it would lead to a lawsuit from AT&T: "If this ordinance passes with the amendment that Google is in support of, we will be sued. I'm 100% sure of that."

In February, AT&T filed a lawsuit against Louisville’s Metro Council, alleging it lacks jurisdiction to allow high-speed ISPs like Google Fibre to install equipment on its utility poles. AT&T will likely sue Nashville’s Metro Council over the 32-7 ruling, as it has previously done in Austin and Louisville.

The second-reading vote doesn’t guarantee the policy will pass on its third and final readying and AT&T Tennessee president, Joelle Phillips, said: "While we are disappointed with tonight's outcome we will continue to advocate for a non-legislative solution ahead of the final vote.”

“This is simply not a place where a single one size fits all government mandate works for consumers or the companies involved," said Comcast's Sara Jo Walker.

The controversial “One Touch Make Ready” guidance was created by the Fiber to the Home Council to streamline make-ready policies for pole attachments and accelerate the deployment of high-performance broadband networks. Not surprisingly, companies such as AT&T and Comcast are not fans of the ordinance and believe it exceeds the jurisdiction of Metro Governments.

Last month, a US Court prevented attempts by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to end protectionist state broadband laws, including in Tennessee, which prevents municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their boundaries.

The news comes after Google Fiber switched on its high-capacity fibre services in Salt Lake City, US.