February 29, 2016
In the perpetual battle between broadband incumbents and challengers, Google and AT&T are arguing over fibre network access in the US.
AT&T has launched a legal claim against the City of Louisville for ruling in favour of infrastructure openness, about which Google, as expected, has had its say.The case in question this time comes down to a decision made by the City of Louisville on a ruling known as One Touch Make Ready (OTMR). OTMR is a ruling intended to make the civil engineering challenges of fibre rollout simpler, whereby new market entrants are able to access existing infrastructure with minimal engineering disruption. The ultimate aim is to boost local competition and open up what has traditionally been a closed market.
AT&T, perhaps unsurprisingly, has taken exception to the City of Louisville initiative and subsequently launched a legal challenge to overturn the ruling. The carrier claims Louisville lacks the jurisdiction to allow rivals to install equipment on its poles, and will take to the courts to settle the case, allegedly. It claims only the state of Kentucky or the FCC has the required authority to make such decisions.
In response, Google Fiber, the FTTH project currently active in nine US cities, has come out in staunch support of the ruling. Chris Levendos, Google Fiber’s Director of National Deployment and Operations, wrote on the Google blog that it’s disappointed by AT&T’s decision – with typical corporate passive aggression.
“When we heard that AT&T was suing the City of Louisville for passing this so-called ‘One Touch Make Ready’ rule, we were disappointed” he said. “Google Fiber is disappointed that AT&T has gone to court in an effort to block Louisville’s efforts to increase broadband and video competition. We are confident the City’s common-sense initiative will be upheld.”
The outcome of the ruling will form an interesting precedent with regards to local competition for broadband access, especially in the light of OTT providers turning towards broadband as a new service.
The case has likeness to the UK’s recent ruling by Ofcom, which said BT can still own wholesale network supplier Openreach, as long as it accepts governance changes and agrees to more open-based measures for competitor access.
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