AT&T says Google Fiber’s bad info delayed pole attachments

AT&T claims that Google Fiber’s call for a one-touch-make-ready ordinance to streamline the process of stringing fiber on poles in Nashville could compromise the telco’s own facilities because Google often provides incorrect information about where it is looking to attach its facilities.

A proposed ordinance would allow Google Fiber to move existing Comcast and AT&T cables itself on utility poles owned by Nashville Electric Services (NES). This would circumvent the old make-ready rules that require Google Fiber to notify NES of the need to make space for its cables, only to have NES contact AT&T and Comcast to execute the actual work. 

Instead of waiting to see when AT&T’s union workforce is available, Google Fiber would be able to choose its own contractors.

Google Fiber has established a nationwide contract with AT&T to attach its facilities to the poles the telco owns. However, AT&T looks at each attachment process city by city.

Joelle Phillips, president of AT&T Tennessee, told FierceTelecom that while it is not concerned about Google Fiber’s ability to find experienced contractors to conduct the make ready work, the relatively new service provider continues to submit incorrect information about the poles.

“Let’s assume they hire the very best contractors, if they give those engineering plans that we get in our application to that contractor I know that’s work that’s going to be done all over again,” Phillips said. “I am seeing many of those that have errors in them that would be corrected so it’s really not so much that they would hire bad contractors but that they might give them bad instructions.”

After filing an application, AT&T does a field survey to make sure the pole matches the engineering drawings they have done.

“We have had some problems in that part of the process,” Phillips said. “Their drawings frequently would not engineer the job in the way we think is appropriate.”

Phillips added that sometimes the issues are as simple as “they have our lines too low to meet the national safety code.” 

Google Fiber and other service providers have to abide by a four-part process: file an application, conduct a field survey, provide a cost estimate, and undertake construction.

“After we have gotten a payment, we schedule the work and do the construction and we’re pretty much on track to be completing from the time we get payment to the end in four weeks,” Phillips said. “We have a contract that has a couple of 45-day intervals in it so I don’t know how they can be surprised by how long it’s taking us to complete the work based on what the contract says.”

The telco is not the only service provider calling out Google Fiber’s work and claims about Nashville.

James Weaver, a Comcast lobbyist said the MSO “is eager and ready to meet to work toward a negotiated solution” to iron out a more efficient pole attachment process to accelerate new broadband rollouts.

But even after suffering customer churn due to the pole attachment issue, the cable MSO remains dedicated to serving the Nashville community.

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