Google Fiber gets preliminary approval in Nashville, still faces AT&T, Comcast opposition

Amidst strong opposition from AT&T and Comcast, Google Fiber came closer to overcoming a key obstacle in bringing its services to Nashville as the Metro Council on Tuesday granted preliminary approval of its "one touch make ready" proposal.

On Tuesday, the council voted 32-7 to approve Google Fiber’s proposal, which is designed to ease its access to utility poles to string fiber to homes and businesses.

According to a report in The Tennessean, the vote was the second of three required to get the new law passed. This decision is an important win for Google Fiber as the council previously voted 20-19 to deny a delay in making a decision on the proposed ordinance until December.

"This is an extremely big step forward, an extremely big net positive for Nashville, for internet competition," said Councilman Jeremy Elrod, one of the bill's co-sponsors, reported The Tennessean. "It increases competition, increases telecom and internet investment for we as a city and our citizens as a whole."

Google Fiber said that the current method to install fiber along existing utility poles would be accelerated if the internet giant could hire its own contractor to move lines to make room for its fiber. However, under the current law, new entrants like Google Fiber have to wait months for existing providers like AT&T and Comcast to move their lines themselves.

AT&T told FierceTelecom in a previous interview that Google Fiber’s proposal said the proposal could compromise the telco’s own facilities because Google often provides incorrect information about where it is looking to attach its facilities.

Joelle Phillips, president of AT&T Tennessee, said that the new service provider continues to submit incorrect information about the poles.

“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,” Phillips said.

AT&T added that if Google were successful in passing its ordinance it would take away work from its union workforce, which is represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA). A key provision of the agreement AT&T has with the CWA is that the telco promised to not allow contractors to move its facilities.

Metro Law Director Jon Cooper said that if the ordinance is passed, it will face legal opposition from AT&T and Comcast.

Phillips said that a lawsuit against Metro Nashville would be likely.

"If this ordinance passes with the amendment that Google is in support of, we will be sued," Cooper said. "I'm 100 percent sure of that."

AT&T has filed a lawsuit in Louisville, Kentucky, to strike down a similar ordinance there.

For more:
- The Tennessean has this article

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