Google may be scaling back Google Fiber, but not in Louisville. However, AT&T and other incumbent carriers have continued to fight against it, filing a lawsuit in Feburary. Today, the FCC has refuted their claims of the law violating FCC rules.
The city of Louisville has passed laws that enabled Google to have easier access to utility poles. Jefferson County, Kentucky has done the same. One of the provisions of these laws was to ensure poles were “make ready”, meaning Google would be allowed to move wires on a pole that do not belong to them. This drew the ire of A&T, who filed a lawsuit against the county and city. AT&T claims that the laws violate FCC rules.
However, Kentucky is one of the states that has chosen to invoke the option of setting their own specific rules. “Congress has authorized individual states that have adopted their own state pole attachment regulations to opt out of the federal pole-attachment rules by invoking Section 224(c), commonly known as the “reverse-preemption” provision….To invoke that provision, a state must certify to the Commission that it “regulates rates, terms, and conditions for pole attachments” and that, in doing so, the state “consider[s] the interests of the subscribers of the services offered via such attachments, as well as the interests of the consumers of the utility services.”, the FCC explained. The FCC’s counsel went as far as to say “That argument is wrong as a matter of law.”
Ordinarily, a new provider must wait for existing providers to change their wiring to accommodate them. The incumbent carriers have up to 60 days or more to make these accommodations. The “make ready” provisions allow Google and other newcomers to rewire it on their own. The FCC’s conclusion is that “there is no conflict between the federal pole attachment regulations and the Louisville Ordinance.”
While it’s sad to have seen Google Fiber scale back, they are committed to many existing cities. AT&T doesn’t seem to have much legal basis to block their expansion plans in Louisville, and especially not after the FCC has chimed in.