Wednesday, March 02, 2016

AT&T delivers a richly deserved swift-kick to Louisville and Google's silly behinds...,

techrepublic |  The fiber internet wars have officially begun. On Thursday, AT&T filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city of Louisville, Kentucky after the city recently passed a new ordinance that would allow ISPs like Google Fiber to make use of utility poles owned by AT&T.

Louisville's relationship with Google Fiber began in September 2015 when the two started exploring options to bring gigabit internet service in the city. In early February 2016, Louisville's Metro Council voted on two separate measures to encourage the deployment of Google's service in the city.

The ordinance in question, known as "One Touch Make Ready," essentially allows Google (or any other ISP) to install its equipment on existing utility poles, including those owned and maintained by AT&T. Despite strong opposition from AT&T and Time Warner Cable, the ordinance passed with a 23-0 vote.

In response, AT&T , stating that the ordinance has no precedent and it violates existing rules for telecom providers. The next day, Google fired back with a blog post condemning AT&T suit, and pledged its support to the city of Louisville. In a tweet directed to Google Fiber, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said: "We will vigorously defend the lawsuit filed today by ATT; gigabit fiber is too important to our city's future."

And, it's not just Google Fiber that would be affected by a ruling against the ordinance. Louisville Chief of Civic Innovation, Ted Smith, said that the city had conversations with three other providers about pole attachment, and two of those companies called to congratulate Louisville on passing the ordinance. There were also a host of Louisville businesses interested in the city's potential adoption of Fiber, and increased competition in the market, as they were dissatisfied with the price they paid for their current service.

"In some cases, the lack of competition has [also] created pockets in our community where businesses don't have redundancy," Smith said. "Which means there is only one commercial provider in the area and if they fail, the backup is not there."

While this lawsuit obviously carries some heavy implications for the Louisville community, it could also have a larger impact on the future of Google Fiber and gigabit internet as a whole. Let's break it down.