The Nashville Metro Council last night gave its final approval to an ordinance designed to help Google Fiber accelerate deployment of high-speed Internet in the Tennessee city, despite AT&T and Comcast lobbying against the measure. Google Fiber’s path isn’t clear, however, as AT&T said weeks ago that it would likely sue Nashville if it passes the ordinance. AT&T has already sued Louisville, Kentucky over a similar ordinance designed to help Google Fiber.
The Nashville Council vote approved a “One Touch Make Ready” ordinance that gives Google Fiber or other ISPs quicker access to utility poles. The ordinance lets a single company make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles itself, instead of having to wait for incumbent providers like AT&T and Comcast to send work crews to move their own wires.
One Council member who opposed the ordinance asked AT&T and Comcast to put forth an alternative plan, but the council stuck with the original One Touch Make Ready proposal.
“It’s a great day for Nashville,” Google Fiber said in response to the vote. “This will allow new entrants like Google Fiber to bring broadband to more Nashvillians efficiently, safely and quickly.”
The ordinance now heads to Mayor Megan Barry, who said she plans to sign it into law, The Tennessean reported last night. But she is getting ready for a lawsuit. “Unfortunately, the likelihood of protracted litigation could delay implementation of this law designed to benefit Nashville’s consumers,” she said, according to the report. “That is why I encouraged fiber providers to work together on a solution they could all agree upon, which they were not able to do. My hope now is that any potential legal disputes over this new law can be resolved quickly, and we can move forward with expanding fiber access throughout the city.”
Google Fiber owner Alphabet offered to share the company’s attorneys with Nashville to fight a lawsuit. AT&T said last month that it expected the ordinance’s passage would “result in litigation.”
AT&T and Comcast both expressed disappointment in last night’s vote. AT&T said the ordinance “is not a good solution for faster deployment of infrastructure,” while Comcast said, “we thank the council members who were willing to take a deep look at the risks associated with, and inaccuracies of ‘One Touch’ and stand up for a better solution that is beneficial for all consumers.”
AT&T previously complained that the ordinance could disrupt its contract with its workers’ union and that Google Fiber crews sometimes have not followed safety codes.