UPDATED: Comcast, AT&T, Charter Trying to Quash Competitor Google Fiber

The companies are marshalling arguments against installation of Google Fiber in Louisville and Nashville

UPDATED: Comcast, AT&T, Charter Trying to Quash Competitor Google Fiber
Image: Pexels
August 3, 2016
Updated: August 17, 2016

No company enjoys watching competitors setting up camp on their turf. And if they have their way, Comcast, Charter, and AT&T won't have to in Louisville and Nashville.

In Louisville, Charter claims that the city is trying to regulate Google Fiber differently than it regulates Charter, which will give Google an unfair advantage over its already-established competitors. The city currently has a separate franchise agreement in place with Google Fiber, an agreement that Charter complains imposes lighter rules on Google even though the two companies offer similar services.

Louisville's The Courier-Journal reports that "Charter representatives claim that unlike Google, their company is obligated to pay money to the city above and beyond the millions in tax proceeds Louisville receives; to provide free internet and cable television to dozens of city-owned buildings; and to provide costly government channels as well as a studio for public access stations."

According to Consumerist, Charter is not the only provider to cry foul over different treatment: AT&T filed a lawsuit against the city in February. However, Google has not yet confirmed that it will even be building a network in Louisville; the area is on a shortlist of "potential" cities to receive the service.

Meanwhile, AT&T is also teaming up with Comcast to make it harder for Google, this time in Nashville.

Unlike in Louisville, construction of the fiber network is actually underway in Nashville, which Consumerist reports is "considering the same kind of pole access regulations that Louisville passed," much to the chagrin of the companies already in place.

In this case, however, AT&T and Comcast are taking up separate arguments in their efforts to reach the same goal.

Although AT&T has not yet seen the proposed city ordinance, the company claims that it may interfere with its agreement with its union workers. It is also concerned about the potential ramifications of other companies, i.e. Google Fiber, being allowed to undertake work on its "facilities," i.e. its utility poles. The company also claims that it is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that has the authority to decide in this matter, not the local government.

Comcast, on the other hand, is taking a more bureaucratic approach to the situation. It wants to get all the involved parties together for a meeting before the legislation goes through.

"We believe that the appropriate next step would be to conduct a meeting of the stakeholders — including AT&T, Comcast, Google Fiber, NES and Public Works — to review the make-ready and permit process and discuss areas for improvement," a Comcast representative told DSL Reports. "This should be accomplished prior to any proposed legislation."

Update: Nashville mayor Megan Barry is urging Google, AT&T, and Comcast to work together to find a solution. Officials from the three companies met with members of the city council's Budget and Finance and Public Works committees on August 15 to discuss the proposed ordinance. The committees voted at that time to recommend deferral of the ordinance to the September 6 council meeting.