AT&T’s lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Western Kentucky, concerns the Louisville Metro Council’s “One Touch Make Ready” ordinance’s effect on AT&T-owned utility poles. This type of ordinance is designed to speed up construction of new networks by making it easier for companies to attach wires to poles.
The Louisville ordinance lets companies like Google Fiber install wires even if AT&T doesn’t respond to requests or rejects requests to attach lines. Companies could also move AT&T wires to make way for their own wires without notifying AT&T, as long as the work wouldn’t cause customer outages. This also limits the number of construction crews needed for pole work, since each provider wouldn’t have to send its own workers to move their equipment.
AT&T, which is building its own fiber network in Louisville, claims that the ordinance lets competitors “seize AT&T’s property.”
It seems if AT&T owns these poles, then they have the right to reject another company adding an additional cable to it. So does this mean if a new company wants to run their own wires through a county/city/state they should be required to construct their own telephone poles? That would get messy.
AT&T used to hold a government-authorized monopoly when they built out the first trans-continental telephone network in the United States in the early 20th century. If it weren’t for this approved monopoly the US wouldn’t have had as reliable a longline network as it does today—if you’ve ever used a “land line”, how many times has it dropped a call on you? The government eventually broke up this monopoly in 1982. Perhaps there shouldn’t be a monopoly around these poles either.
Google’s attitude towards these telephone poles reminds me of how Google used to use public bus stops here in San Francisco for free for their private company shuttles. In 2014 they had to start paying to use them. Maybe they should be required to share their poles with other countries, but charge them a fee for using them. Google can’t expect they can continue to use other people’s shit for free.