Comcast sues Nashville
to block Google Fiber

Julian Kurland | October 25, 2016

Comcast, following AT&T’s footsteps, has sued Nashville in an attempt to prevent the rollout of Google Fiber.

Last month, Nashville Metro Council passed “One Touch Make Ready,” an ordinance that allows service providers, like Google Fiber, to more quickly install fiber across the city’s utility poles.

The new ordinance allows Google Fiber to adjust existing utility pole attachments instead of waiting for each of the attachment’s owners to make the changes themselves, a process which can take months per pole. Before the ordinance passed, Google said that “only 33 poles have been made ready,” out of the 44,000 that Google had requested.

Two days after Council’s passage of “One Touch Make Ready”, AT&T filed suit against Nashville in a bid to prevent the ordinance from taking effect. AT&T is also currently suing Louisville over a similar ordinance.

Today, Comcast joined the legal fray, filing a separate complaint in the U.S. District Court in Nashville.

Image courtesy of Google Fiber

According to the Complaint, Comcast does not actually own any of the utility poles at the heart of the issue. 80% of Nashville’s utility poles are owned by Nashville Electric Service (“NES”), the city’s public electric utility, and the remaining poles are owned by AT&T. Comcast has existing contracts with both entities that allow Comcast to utilize the poles.

Comcast argues that the “One Touch Make Ready” ordinance conflicts with Comcast’s existing contracts, FCC regulations, and the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions. “This is not an issue of another provider being in the marketplace,” Comcast official Andy Macke told The Tennessean Tuesday. “This is really about our ability to manage our network and our ability to really manage the customer relationships and public safety.”

The suit comes as no surprise to Nashville.

Prior to the Metro Council’s vote, Metro Law Director Jon Cooper said he was “100 percent sure” that the passage “One Touch Make Ready” would result in a lawsuit against the city. Google Fiber, through it’s parent company Alphabet, has already promised to help Nashville fight the lawsuit. In an email to the Council, Fleur Knowlsey, senior counsel at Alphabet’s access group wrote: “Google Fiber will therefore be glad to share the capabilities of its in-house and outside attorneys, including some of the most experienced and accomplished regulatory attorneys in the industry.”

Read the lawsuit in full below:

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