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AT&T Google Government Network Networking The Courts

AT&T Sues Louisville Over Google Fiber (wdrb.com) 157

An anonymous reader writes: Louisville was one of the cities identified in 2015 as a potential Google fiber location? Since then, Louisville has completed the pre-work Google requires and, most recently, unamiously passed an ordinance to remove legacy bureaucratic speed bumps to installing fiber on existing utility poles. This applies to any telco wanting to add infrastructure, so that's good, right? Well, not according to AT&T. They are suing the city to block this ordinance and prohibit the city from using its infrastructure as it sees fit to provide better broadband to its citizens.
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AT&T Sues Louisville Over Google Fiber

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:02AM (#51591329)

    If so, the Louisville City Council should damn well be able to cite the authority that allows them to tell AT&T to put Google equipment on AT&T's poles.

    • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger.gmail@com> on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:09AM (#51591361)

      The poles are under the jurisdiction of the state Public Service Commission. In other cities, Google has met with the commission and AT&T, with the end result of Google Fiber using the same poles as AT&T. In this lawsuit, AT&T is saying they want the city council to follow the same procedure followed in other cities where Google Fiber exists currently.

      This post is not a defense of AT&T's prior anti-municipal broadband tactics; just playing devil's advocate against a bloody red meat summary.

      • by Bright Apollo ( 988736 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:47AM (#51591629) Journal

        "âoeGoogle can attach to AT&Tâ(TM)s poles once it enters into AT&Tâ(TM)s standard Commercial Licensing Agreement, as it has in other cities,â the statement said. "

        PUC doesn't have authority to tell a municipality who can or cannot connect to a pole. Everyone isentitled to use the poles. Poles are, contrary to AT&T's old conception, not owned by AT they are owned by the town, and a town can and does wield eminent domain to possess property for a public good. Armed with some key funds from Google, Louisville can not only win, but win a landmark decision.

        AT&T is overreaching. They are contracted to maintain infrastructure, and the poles are part of it, but AT&T is not going to start ripping up poles unless they want an even worse outcome in the courts. Those poles are owned by the muni, it's just up to the muni to remember that fact.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2016 @11:19AM (#51591841)

          Funny how when AT&T pays for an irrevocable, unlimited, and permanent right to use a city's infrastructure, they get mad when city decides that agreement isn't going so well.

          But when customers use "unlimited" internet to its fullest extent, they are thieves and need to be booted off the network via usage caps.

          • by igjeff ( 15314 )

            Funny quirk here. AT&T doesn't actually have a franchise with the City of Louisville. Back in 1886, our state legislature granted AT&T a statewide license to operate telecommunications infrastructure statewide.

            So every new operator that provides service in Kentucky has to get local franchise agreements in place wherever they want to provide service, but AT&T can just go at it willy-nilly.

        • PUC doesn't have authority to tell a municipality who can or cannot connect to a pole. Everyone isentitled to use the poles. Poles are, contrary to AT&T's old conception, not owned by AT they are owned by the town, and a town can and does wield eminent domain to possess property for a public good.

          I can't speak for this case in particular but in many cases the poles ARE owned by AT&T or some other private entity. They might be owned by a third party like the power company. In fact it's kind of uncommon for the poles to actually be owned by the local municipality. There are laws governing use and access to the poles but they may very well be privately owned. For example the poles outside my house are owned by the local power company. The phone and cable companies pay the power company to util

          • by David_Hart ( 1184661 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @12:15PM (#51592247)

            PUC doesn't have authority to tell a municipality who can or cannot connect to a pole. Everyone isentitled to use the poles. Poles are, contrary to AT&T's old conception, not owned by AT they are owned by the town, and a town can and does wield eminent domain to possess property for a public good.

            I can't speak for this case in particular but in many cases the poles ARE owned by AT&T or some other private entity. They might be owned by a third party like the power company. In fact it's kind of uncommon for the poles to actually be owned by the local municipality. There are laws governing use and access to the poles but they may very well be privately owned. For example the poles outside my house are owned by the local power company. The phone and cable companies pay the power company to utilize them. If the pole gets damaged it is the power company's responsibility to fix the pole. The local government does not and never has owned the poles near me.

            My reading of the article on the law suit is that it isn't about who owns the poles. The problem is that the new ordinance has language that allows Google to require AT&T to re-position AT&T equipment on the pole at AT&T's expense. I'm willing to bet that the agreements that Google made with AT&T in other areas required Google to pay at least some of the expense. Which, personally, I think is fair.

            • The problem is that the new ordinance has language that allows Google to require AT&T to re-position AT&T equipment on the pole at AT&T's expense.

              No, it seems that the ordinance removes the "requirement" for AT&T (or any other provider) to move their equipment, allowing Google to come in and move other company's equipment around.

              The One Touch Ordinance is just that. With one touch, one visit, the company installing new equipment is able to move existing lines.

              That's a recipe for lawsuits right there. Google hires someone to come in and move AT&Ts cables and AT&Ts service stops working. Oopsies. Sorry.

              The fascinating part of the links i

          • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
            Poles are typically located in right of ways. Even if privately owned, they're still heavily regulated because they're on public or even 3rd-party private land.
        • Lets hope that it does go to court. It would be nice to see Louisville win this in federal court. If so, then it allows many municipalities to do something similar, even when state law says otherwise.
        • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
          Federal law states that Telcoms have access to poles(right of way), but Google Fiber is not a telcom. It's up to state or local laws to include Google Fiber as a class of business that has access to the poles. No, not anyone has access to poles.
          • by igjeff ( 15314 )

            I haven't checked this specifically, but I suspect Google *is* a telecom. All it takes is a filing with the state utility commission (the Public Service Commission, in Kentucky).

            Also, TWC had wires up on the poles before they were a telecom, you don't actually have to be a telecom to put wires on the poles.

            All you need is a franchise agreement with the city. (Well, except for AT&T, which was granted a statewide franchise by the state of Kentucky back in 1886)

            • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
              TWC is a cable company, yet another federally granted class of business that has right of way access. Being a telcom includes a lot of regulation baggage. I doubt Google Fiber is a telcom. Google Fiber is an ISP, which is not recognized as a class of business with right of way access.
        • by igjeff ( 15314 )

          Actually, in Louisville (I'm a lifelong resident and have been following this issue pretty closely for quite some time) the poles *are* owned by AT&T...well, actually by AT&T and our local power utility (Louisville Gas & Electric, LG&E)...about 60% by LG&E, about 40% by AT&T...with a smattering of others owned by others like TWC. But that's not actually relevant here. This isn't an issue about who gets to attach to the poles...that's regulated and new providers such as Google are a

      • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @11:45AM (#51592027)

        I'm with AT&T on this. Google is trying to pull an Uber, and claim it's not subject to telecom laws since it's not a telecom. It's leveraging all sorts of goodies--many great benefits to the local citizens and thus desireable perks-- to get the govt to look the other way. But really if AT&T has to follow the regulations and google is providing an analgous service, this is not really a level playing field.

        AT&T may be slowing down progress here but they are also getting screwed too. SO take all the utiltiy taxes and regulations off AT&T and let them compete. But the cgovt can't do that. theynot only don't have all the jurisdictional powers to do that, they also need the money they raise from telecom fees and such.

        It's a tricky situation in which granting favors to the golden child is not good policy even if its good for progress.

        • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
          Internet is not telcom. If it was, net neutrality wouldn't even be talked about. We could spin this the other way. Since AT&T uses poles for their internet services, those internet services should fall under telcom regulations.
        • by igjeff ( 15314 )

          Hardly. Google is going out of their way to comply with regulations. They are *also* trying to get those regulations change, for everybody, because it benefits them, sure, but they certainly aren't trying to skirt the regulations.

          BTW, you don't have to be a telecom to put wires on poles...all you have to have is a franchise agreement with the city.

          Well, unless you're AT&T, in which case you were granted a statewide franchise by the state legislature in 1886, so they don't have to go in and negotiate f

      • Bullshit and you know it. AT&T wants to stop Google. Period. Unless you agree with the provision:

        Metro Councilman Bill Hollander, the ordinance’s sponsor, said earlier this month that the changes “will make the whole (installation) process faster and make the community more broadband ready.”

        Under current rules, each provider would have to send a contractor to move its equipment to make way for new services like Google Fiber, officials have said.

        “Depending on where you
        • If the federal government came and told Kentucky not to do something then Kentucky officials would be up in arms about state's rights and the overly broad reach of the fds. But it's apparently ok if the state officials get to tell the locals what to do or not to do. Maybe "state's rights" really means keeping power in the state house instead of keeping power local to where it is used?

          • by igjeff ( 15314 )

            From what I hear, the state Public Service Commission is completely ok with the ordinance that Metro Louisville passed. That's some hearsay, but it's pretty in-line with what the PSC would like to see happening for fostering competition.

    • by arbiter1 ( 1204146 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:09AM (#51591365)
      They don't own right to say what can or can't be installed on those pole's. Public utilities have right of way type access to use those poles to provide service to people, AT&T is just just being AT&T, bunch of (*#&(@*#&.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        True but that's not the point. The point is it allows other companies to go out there and screw around with AT&T's equipment without AT&T's permission or knowledge. That is the problem here.

        the ordinance, which was also opposed by Time Warner Cable, would allow a third party like Google to temporarily “seize” AT&T’s property – without notice, in most cases, according to the lawsuit

        • by thaylin ( 555395 )

          However what is the damage here. IS google liable for any damage it causes as a result of messing with ATTs equipment or not? If not then there is a problem, if so then I dont see the problem.. Well I can see a small problem, but one that can be overcome.

          • Well I can see a small problem, but one that can be overcome.

            You don't see a big problem with one source of Internet being able to mess with another source's backbone without so much as a please or thank you?

            How many times does someone's AT&T internet have to stop working before they might think "hmm, there's Google, a new player, maybe I'll try them"? You don't see an economic advantage to disrupting the other guy's services when you install your own identical service on the same pole?

            Yes, eventually the broken service will be fixed. It will be at the expens

          • by igjeff ( 15314 )

            Yes, the ordinance explicitly included provisions for inspection and correction of problems when these moves occur.

        • by Charcharodon ( 611187 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:44AM (#51591611)
          Lol, anyone with a ladder can go screw with AT&T's gear, and in some cases the access is conveniently on the ground..

          After looking at all the garbage bolted to the side of my house by the various services that have been added over the years before I bought the house, I grabbed some cutters and pulled off everything but the FIOS box and the electric meter. After that I pulled up all the lines out of the ground all the way to the nearest pole.

          Was it technically their property when I "seized" it, sure, but if they wanted it so bad maybe they should have come and got it once service was canceled. The shit on the pole is no different. AT&T are just being cunts because 1 they don't want to have pay to go remove unused/outdated gear, and 2 they don't want anyone else doing it because then it will block competitors from moving in.

    • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:31AM (#51591517) Homepage

      The US legal code?

      A utility shall provide a cable television system or any telecommunications carrier with nondiscriminatory access to any pole, duct, conduit, or right-of-way owned or controlled by it.

      Source: U.S. Code > Title 47 > Chapter 5 > Subchapter II > Part I > Section 224 [cornell.edu]

      • Unfortunately, that does not say that the access shall include the right to move, adjust, or modify any other carrier's equipment already installed upon that pole.

        And in this case, when AT&T installed their equipment, the law said they had to get everyone else on the pole to come out and make space for them. Now the law says that Google can everyone else's stuff around without notification. This is discriminatory in Google's favor.

        • This is discriminatory in Google's favor.

          It's more just in favor of any newcomer. Google won't be the only one. and AT&T can likely use this to their advantage when doing their own maintenance.

          • It's more just in favor of any newcomer.

            Which just happens to be Google. It's discriminatory in favor of newcomers. The word still applies.

            and AT&T can likely use this to their advantage when doing their own maintenance.

            AT&T doesn't need to move everyone else around when they do maintenance. They already have space and equipment on the pole. And it creates just as much of a problem when you say that AT&T can do it -- do you think AT&T should be able to move Google's equipment around at their whim? Do you think AT&T really wants to have the liability that this would create?

            • Do you think it should take weeks of cooperation to move a single nail? Or should the job just get done with no harm to anyone? If there's damages, sue for damages - otherwise, just trust each other and get along. It seems pretty reasonable.

              • Do you think it should take weeks of cooperation to move a single nail?

                Pretending that it is "mov[ing] a single nail" to move everyone else's equipment on a pole to make room for your own is a bit disingenous.

                Or should the job just get done with no harm to anyone?

                If the job could be done with a guarantee of "no harm to anyone", sure.

                If there's damages, sue for damages

                So AT&T customers have to put up with the outages, AT&T has to pay extra for repair callouts, and the lawers get fat.

                otherwise, just trust each other and get along.

                If we could "just trust each other" there would be no need for any of the laws we have now. Do you really want to take the position that we should "just trust" large mega-corpor

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by acoustix ( 123925 )

      And I'm sure the existing poles are probably already loaded to capacity. Power, telephone, cable already on the poles. Now they're going to add aerial fiber?

      Who pays for the replacement poles because of the additional wear and tear?

    • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:56AM (#51591699)

      Many cities have ordinances about the control of telephone poles. However, many of them also have ordinances that the owners must allow reasonable access to other parties. Sometimes it is for a fee. For example, Comcast should be to use telephone poles installed by AT&T. No part of the ordinance compels AT&T (the owner) to work for Comcast and that's not what the ordinance or removal of such ordinances is about.

      I seem to remember a similar case in Austin when Google Fiber started there. AT&T would not grant Google the right to use the poles for any fee. The city intervened and said AT&T has to grant right of use for a reasonable fee or the city might take ownership under eminent domain.

    • I think the parent's title is a valid question. More often than not, the poles are carrying power and are owned by the electrical utility. Occasionally, you see shorter poles with only communications cable, but not that often in most places.
    • AT&T owns the poles... But not the land the poles sit on.

      The land is owned by individuals, who are forced by the legal power of the Louisville City to let AT&T keep their pole their without charge.

      AT&T wants to use that land rent free? Fine, they have to abide by the rules the city gives them.

      • AT&T wants to use that land rent free? Fine, they have to abide by the rules the city gives them.

        They did.

        But they also have the right to object to a change in the rules that allows Google installers to move AT&T equipment. What happens when Google installers "accidentally" break AT&T service when they move a cable?

        If AT&T breaks their own stuff because screw it up when they move it to make space for Google, that's one thing. AT&T can schedule the moves in a systematic way and provide for enough people to do it. What this new ordinance creates is a situation where Google can come in a

    • Owning the poles Is irrelevant. They don't own the LAND the poles sit on. The Louisville City Council passed a law to force residents to let AT&T put up poles on the residents land without paying the residents anything. If you own a house then there is a telephone pole sitting on your property, they don't pay you rent, they never 'bought' the land, and you can't stop them from entering your property to fix their poles. Even if you don't use ANYTHING on the pole. You could own the land but not have
    • Why are the promulgating eyesores like poles, when anyone sensible has been u=putting infrastructure in the ground for decades.
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:02AM (#51591333)
    So it resorts to the courtroom to try to stop its competitors.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:10AM (#51591367)

      They can compete, but it is more profitable not too.

    • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:41AM (#51591599)

      Versus resorting to dealing with the city council. Both courts and the city council are branches of government. Both would rule on the same issue. Is one of them illegitimate? Which one? Why?

      Consider reading the article before getting all hyped up and performing the usual outrage-theatre on this. It has actual info.

      The court will rule. The phony drama and the silly cheerleading will be forgotten. Google fiber will roll out on schedule. Some money might or might not change hands between mega-corps -- who cares?

    • AT&T and pretty much all other providers of connectivity to the Internet are all living in a house of cards, and I think they know that; all it'll take is one good stiff breeze to knock it all down, they know it's inevitable, but they're thrashing around in defiance of it anyway. Just like the recording industry with the advent of the MP3, they all realize that they're operating under an outdated business model, and rather than accept that and adapt, they're fighting it with anything they can come up wi
  • Not quite (Score:5, Informative)

    by symes ( 835608 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:10AM (#51591369) Journal

    It would seem like AT&T are moaning about other contractors, like Google, removing AT&T equipment. This is nothing about trying to prevent Google from hooking up fiber. They kind of have a point as well. Who decides when something is legacy, needs retiring and removal? Sure, I hate AT&T as much as the next guy, I enjoy my ridiculously high speed fiber and feel sorry for those who don't have it. But at least read the article.

    • Re:Not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:26AM (#51591461) Journal

      Moreover these are not the city's poles, but AT&T's, and they have a contract for 3rd party access, which Google is paying elsewhere.

      So unless Louisville can point to their contract with AT&T where Louisville strongarmed them into pre-agreeing to stuff like this in exchange for, say, 100% coverage, it does indeed exceed the city's authority.

      The OP badly misstates things about this being the city's stuff.

      • Re:Not quite (Score:5, Interesting)

        by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @12:08PM (#51592197)

        What kind of authority does the city have over widespread infrastructure installed but poorly maintained and documented by utilities?

        A utility comes into a city decades ago, gets approval to install infrastructure. Years pass and as their business declines, they reduce the amount of maintenance, documentation and record keeping on this infrastructure. The base is still useful, but is cluttered with abandoned, undocumented and unused components.

        The city has a desire to improve services similar to those provided by the utility and believes it is in the best interest of the city and its citizens to repurpose that infrastructure for other similar services, and such repurposing may require a new utility provider to remove legacy components in order to utilize the base infrastructure.

        On one hand, you can say AT&T owns the poles and that Google's installers might corrupt the working parts of their infrastructure accidentally and in ways that are hard to fix and may irreparably damage their business relationships.

        On the other hand, you can argue that AT&T created any risk through negligent maintenance of their infrastructure, and that their primary purpose is to hinder the expansion of a competing business, either by blocking access outright or creating a burdensome review process for many obviously obsolete component the new utility may remove.

        I'm also curious what contractural agreements the city has with AT&T over placement and use of their poles. Is the city contractually obligated to let AT&T do whatever it wants with those poles, forever? Are they never subject to new ordinances, maintenance of the poles and components, etc?

      • Utilities generally only have a maintenance contract to build and maintain transmission equipment along public easements (that's a swath of land that crosses private property for placing transmission conduits the greater good, like electrical and telephone lines, gas lines, sewer lines, etc.). So while technically AT&T owns the poles, they do not get to decide what gets put on them. The poles are only allowed to exist because of the easement, and the local government controls the easement. Unless the
    • Re:Not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rob Lister ( 4174831 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:30AM (#51591513)
      Exactly. While "one touch make ready" seems economical, google (or any other contractor) has no right to touch/move/reconfigure ATT equipment without prior notice and consent. The complaint is pretty clear; the city has no right to make this determination. All of which is not to say that ATT aren't still a bunch of dicks.
      • This is exactly what Verizon does when they install FiOS. They remove your copper hookups. Then they flatly deny having done so.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MrKrillls ( 3858631 )

      No. It's ATT making up a story that others will screw up their equipment. It would be exceedingly poor PR for Google to come in and wreck other people's connectivity and get caught doing it. This is ATT being obstructive, not ATT protecting themselves from big bad Google. And yes, sure, in redoing a whole city, some item will get damaged, at some point, but the kind of scenario ATT portrays is silly.

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        It would be exceedingly poor PR for Google to come in and wreck other people's connectivity and get caught doing it.

        Yeah. That's why no cable or internet provider ever messes up anyone's connectivity. Can you imagine a world where someone complains about a broadband provider? I'm sure the executives at these companies get panic attacks just thinking about the idea.

      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        No. It's ATT making up a story that others will screw up their equipment. It would be exceedingly poor PR for Google to come in and wreck other people's connectivity and get caught doing it.

        Ironically, I know from professional experience that this does happen -- only it's the other way around. The incumbent provider will damage the infrastructure of the "new guy in town" instead. I used to work for a cable overbuilder in the Southern California and the larger entrenched provider, one of the "Big Three", was found to be cutting our lines.

  • This is typical corporate philosophy. they know they can't compete with Google's resources or technology, so they try to block them. It won't really work of course, but they figure they can slow them down until they figure something. Maybe an alliance with Verizon...
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:11AM (#51591375)

    In the real world, their ain't much "Free" in most "Free market" capitalism.

    Film at eleven.

    • by AntronArgaiv ( 4043705 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:26AM (#51591463)

      "We used to be a regulated monopoly, but we couldn't compete. So we reorganized as an unregulated ISP and we still can't compete. So, can we please have the good parts of each, and have things all our way?"

      "F" you, AT&T. The job of a government is to do what's good for its citizens. You want deregulation? Then you compete with all comers, including a community ISP. They'll pay you rent on your poles, just like anyone else would have to.

      Gee, it's a whole different competitive landscape when it's not just AT&T and Comcast and their sweet little (alleged) price fixing deal.

  • most recently, unamiously passed an ordinance

    There's your problem. If everybody agreed, AT&T would have a much harder time fighting this.

  • AT&T thought it was fine and dandy when the city passed the ordinance that placed an easement on people's property, so that AT&T could use the land for utility poles and subterranean lines. They could always repeal the whole easement and give them the minimum time required by law to remove the equipment if AT&T keeps pressing the issue further.
    • Think they'd require AT&T to remove their whole pole, or would cutting it off just below ground level suffice?

  • by tippen ( 704534 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:36AM (#51591557)

    You've got to wonder if the submitter even read the article it links to. That summary is remarkably misleading.

    Regardless of what you think about AT&T generally, it's pretty clear they are in the right on this one. The city overstepped its authority.

    • Actually no they didn't. But then I guess you don't know dick about easements - which is what this is.
  • by MitchDev ( 2526834 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:38AM (#51591565)

    All of Louisville needs to BOYCOTT AT&T, and then same goes for other cities and CableCo's that pull this $#!+....

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Also boycott everyone who has ever used an ATT phone or done business with ATT. Because boycotts work great.

      Or you could read the article and not be a mindless tool for everyone who tells you a story you want to hear.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by MitchDev ( 2526834 )

        Or you can suck my balls.

        The details of this story point to the summary being misleading, but the base underlying problem of the cablecos fighting any attempt at competition is still valid.

        ANd you are really fucking stupid if you think boycotting anyone who ever used an AT&T product makes sense, but then again, you are probably a Trump sheep...

        • by Kohath ( 38547 )

          ...but then again, you are probably a Trump sheep...

          Did someone tell you a story you want to hear about Trump too?

          (BTW: I don't support Trump, or ATT, or Google. Or Internet outrage dramas.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:38AM (#51591567)

    Why is Louisville City Council legislating about the poles?

    That is a job of the Warsaw government!

  • It's lies and FUD (Score:3, Informative)

    by MrKrillls ( 3858631 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @10:53AM (#51591679)

    "ATT says they will suffer "irreparable harm". They want us to imagine Google will shut down the whole city and blame ATT for it. That would be irreparable. In the real world, those much more minor things that WILL happen are entirely able to be repaired.

    "Unless the Court declares the Ordinance invalid and permanently enjoins
    Louisville Metro from enforcing it, AT&T will suffer irreparable harm that cannot be redressed
    by recovery of damages. For example, AT&T will be forced to comply with a preempted
    ordinance, will be improperly subjected to regulators at multiple levels of government, and will
    suffer a loss of customer goodwill. A permanent injunction will advance the public interest as
    defined by Congress and the FCC."

    Buncha lies.

    • ... and will suffer a loss of customer goodwill.

      Hey, there are only three little old ladies left who like AT&T. If they lose even one, that's a 33% drop in their remaining good will. And that's irreparable, 'cause they're not making any more of those.

      • I have a "complicated" relationship w ATT. They have done a decent job with my own cell connectivity, but situations like this keep pushing my buttons. Just an hour ago, a new rep at their store offered up a couple of excellent deals I had never heard of. So, now my stance is that the people are good but the company has a ways to go.

  • by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @11:47AM (#51592039) Homepage

    I just retired from nearly 30 years with my local water/sewer utility. No large business is highly efficient, but this one was pretty good as large businesses go; and there was certainly no money wasted on activities actively harmful to customers.
    For the first half of my career,I was their IT manager. I could never stop contrasting how the basic water utility worked with how IT providers worked. We painstakingly figured out how much cheaper it was to serve commercial customers that bought water in bulk from residential customers, so that we could work out fair rates for the commercial buyers. Anybody wanting to hook in anywhere could do so for the exact cost of our construction (couldn't even add on a percentage to our costs). Anybody setting up in any registered city lot had to have infrastructure brought to their property line. Everybody got the same rates.

    Meanwhile, in IT, anybody who had a networking protocol used it ruthlessly to raise the rates you had to pay to join that network; AppleTalk, Token Ring, DECnet, the works. One thing that "Kids these days" don't appreciate is how one networking protocol that could be provided by many competitors brought down those artificial costs to something like how we work.
    Every other form of customer control - intellectual property ownership of, say, Windows or control of parts that could repair Apples - was invariably and instantly used by every player to artificially raise costs for the consumer.
    And we had control of *WATER* - life itself - what could we charge if we could back that up with cops charged with destroying any wells anybody dug or confiscating bottled water? Many dollars per gallon, of course; only the well-off could shower daily. You can see why we had to be a public utility like the roads!

    On which topic, what if a monopoly provider controlled the public roads? You'd be paying a buck a block to drive them.

    When I read stories like this, I want to tear my hair; they all sound so perfectly pointless, struggles over an imaginary problem. Times have changed. "Information Superhighway" was an instant joke, but the analogy between public roads and the Internet is pretty close in terms of it being "what you must use to go to work, go to market, communicate business". It should all be PUBLIC infrastructure, usable to all at the same rates, provided by that ultimately neutral actor, a government bureaucracy where nobody in it makes one dime more or less when it charges more or less. Employees charged only with accounting costs as closely as possible and charging only those, zero profits, with completely open books and responsible to a democratic body.

    Then anybody could rent access including any commercial amount of bandwidth, no lawsuits, no tears.

    We should re-wire the continent with all-fiber-to-the-home; and the whole lot of it should be owned by local municipalities and utility districts; their stewardship of it regulated by their States, and that regulation overseen by the Feds. From my career, I trust that system, it seems to work with water. I sure as hell don't trust any commercial arrangement I've seen about telecomm; not one I've seen in my whole life. Private actors can't be trusted to use any control of it honestly.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday February 26, 2016 @01:02PM (#51592585) Homepage

      A public utility is quite good when what you want is service delivery, like power, water, sewage, renovation are quite well-defined services that don't really change much. We had a public telecom company here in Norway, it worked okay for delivering phone calls. But when customers wanted new technology like ISDN and ADSL the rollout was slow, the prices high and being a monopoly they had very little incentive to become more progressive or effective. Here in Norway the fiber rollout is a three-way race between telecom, cable and power companies and they've been quite aggressive since the first to cover a market usually don't leave enough for a runner up. Right now the market share of fiber is 28% and rising quick.

      It is a challenge that the competition post-fiber is almost non-existant and open to gouging, but right now I wouldn't mess with this business model. There has been talk about forced opening of content services, like we had on phone lines. Basically that the company must lease the fiber line to others so they can deliver TV, Internet etc. but we're not there yet. I think the trend of Netflix etc. in practice will get there ahead of any regulation anyway. And I suspect we'll see more subsidies for rural areas, already we have quite a few public incentives to speed up the roll-out. Maybe once we hit 70-80% coverage we'd go back to having a public utility, but today? I think it'd just grind everything to a halt.

      • by JeremyR ( 6924 )

        In (some of) the suburbs of Salt Lake City, we have exactly what you describe. The fiber infrastructure is owned by the cities, but the municipal network doesn't offer any retail services. Those are provided by "conventional" ISPs, of which there are about a dozen that customers may choose from. The incumbent telecom companies are also invited to participate (but so far have declined to do so).

        Market solutions only work when there is actual competition, which I'm not sure has ever existed in wireline commun

        • Utopia was terribly managed, the commission was played like a fiddle by the telecom consultants they hired. They had no independent experience on the board and had far too many cities hoping to turn this into a profitable agenda used to offset costs rather than a utility and their hired consultant told them exactly what they wanted to hear to keep the billable rates going. They wasted millions of dollars.

  • Louisville was one of the cities identified in 2015 as a potential Google fiber location?

    That was the lead sentence of the submitted summary, do sentences just end with whatever punctuation they want :

There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking about. -- John von Neumann

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