While millions of Internet users crave the idea of being able to subscribe to a service like Google Fiber, telecoms like AT&T want nothing more than to be able to squash those hopes. We can see a great example of this right now in Louisville, KY.
Last month, a Louisville council voted 23-0 in favor of granting third-party access to utility poles. This allows companies like Google to mosey on in and give local residents a compelling reason to leave their existing Internet provider - such as AT&T. After the ordinance passed, councilman Bill Hollander backed up the successful vote by saying, "This will help business locate here and grow here." It's hard to disagree with that sentiment; companies need fast Internet, and while their location choices for fast Internet are going to be great, they're never going to settle in a place where a monopoly results in either slow or expensive packages.
AT&T believes that it's been handed an injustice, so it's wasted no time in fighting the decision. The company just filed a lawsuit in federal court against Louisville claiming that it lacks the jurisdiction to allow third-parties install equipment on its poles. We're not privy to whether or not that's true, but AT&T attempts to defend itself by claiming that it welcomes competition. It apparently just doesn't want to allow that competition to exist in the first place.
Louisville Greg Fischer must be a man that loves fast Internet, because he doesn't plan to go down without a fight, saying, "We will vigorously defend the lawsuit filed today by AT&T. Gigabit fiber is too important to our city's future."
Wouldn't it be amazing if all politicians felt the same way?
Estimates show that AT&T owns between 25 to 40% of the utility poles found in and around Louisville. The company notes that if third-parties want in, they can opt into a licensing agreement, as some in other cities have done.
We're not sure where this will ultimately go, but the result could potentially set a precedent for all other cities around the country that are desperate to be able to get true high-speed Internet.