Part of Google Fiber’s tender wounds are likely self-inflicted, with the company perhaps biting off more than it can chew at a time when it comes to deploying fiber in major markets across the United States. On the flip side, much of the damage has come from entrenched players like AT&T and Comcast which have been fighting to prevent Google Fiber from expanding. Nearly a month after Charter sued Louisville to slow down Google Fiber deployments, we’re now learning that Comcast is suing the city of Nashville to stop Google Fiber in its tracks.
AT&T opted to sue Nashville late last month, so Comcast’s decision to pile on sounds like more bad news for Google Fiber. At the crux of the lawsuit, is the One Touch Make Ready law, which allows Google to move Comcast and AT&T equipment installed on utility poles as needed — using approved personnel — to speed up fiber deployments throughout the city. AT&T and Comcast counter that One Touch Make Ready would lead to their equipment possibly becoming damaged, service interruption, and potential safety issues.
Comcast (like AT&T before it) wants the One Touch Make Ready ordinance, which was approved last month, invalidated in Nashville. Comcast claims that its interference via a lawsuit has nothing to do with stifling competition. "This is not an issue of another provider being in the marketplace," said a Comcast representative earlier this week. "This is really about our ability to manage our network and our ability to really manage the customer relationships and public safety."
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, on the other hand, sees things differently. “One Touch Make Ready has been litigated in the court of public opinion, and the public overwhelmingly supports this measure designed to speed up the deployment of high-speed fiber in Nashville," said Barry. "Now, we hope that this federal litigation is quickly resolved so that we can get on with the business of expanding access to gigabit internet throughout Davidson County.”
Whatever the case, given the extreme difficulty that Google Fiber has encountered of the years in some markets to deploy service, is should come as no surprise that wireless is being eyed as a potential replacement for its fiber cabling efforts.