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AT&T, Comcast Lawsuit Has Nullified a City's Broadband Competition Law (arstechnica.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: AT&T and Comcast have convinced a federal judge to nullify an ordinance that was designed to bring more broadband competition to Nashville, Tennessee. The Nashville Metro Council last year passed a "One Touch Make Ready" rule that gives Google Fiber or other new ISPs faster 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. AT&T and Comcast sued the metro government in U.S. District Court in Nashville, claiming that federal and local laws preempt the One Touch Make Ready rule. Judge Victoria Roberts agreed with AT&T and Comcast in a ruling issued Tuesday. Google Fiber is offering service in Nashville despite saying last year that it was waiting for access to thousands of utility poles. "We're reviewing [the] court ruling to understand its potential impact on our build in Nashville," a Google spokesperson said this week, according to The Tennessean. "We have made significant progress with new innovative deployment techniques in some areas of the city, but access to poles remains an important issue where underground deployment is not a possibility."
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AT&T, Comcast Lawsuit Has Nullified a City's Broadband Competition Law

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  • But Ajit Pai’s FCC says only 1 ISP choice is sufficient competition so clearly this ordinance was totally unnecessary. /s

    • by mishehu ( 712452 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @09:34PM (#55618071)
      With all this talk of Net Neutrality around here, it's no wonder we're all so Ajitated.
    • So to you, the fact that Ajit Pai has publicly come out in a WSJ editorial wanting to switch the Obama era FCC rules from what this judge just upheld (Title II FCC micromanagement) back to "light touch regulations" similar to what this judge rejected (but on a national level, not just for one locality) is proof to you that his position is the exact opposite? Let me guess, you've never actually read anything Pai's said or written about ISP competition?

      • by Desler ( 1608317 )

        I’ve read plenty of what he’s written and said. It’s mostly vomitous. But, hey, keep thinking that massive media conglomeration and ISP consolidation is going to benefit you. I’m sure it’ll happen around the time that massive tax cut to the .1% “trickles down” a few pennies your way.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a perfect example of fascism. Corporations acquiring the real power over the people by either colluding with politicians in power, or by brute force of their money, through lobying, corruption, using the legal system as a weapon, etc.

    This is exactly the reason democracy was created: To take power away from the wealthy elite and give it to the people as a whole. Of course, this goes completely against human nature, so democracy is, and always will be, a constant uphill battle.

    • It's actually a perfect example of common sense. If Google damages AT&T or Comcast's wires while moving them, how quickly do you think they're going to get around to fixing them? Even assuming Google can be trusted to look after their competitor's best interests, how do they test their competitor's networks to ensure they haven't done any damage? And if they do damage their competitor's wiring, how long will it take the competitor to figure out what's happened and fix it, and who's going to be stuck wi

      • More likely: AT&T or Comcast will repair their own junk, then send the repair bill to Google. If Google refuses or is slow to pay I'm sure their fiber might suffer some "accidental" damage at key utility poles.

        But since they all would have been in it together, sharing the same utility poles, it's in everybody's best interest not to mess up their competitor's stuff and just work on their own. Comcast shares poles around here with old AT&T copper telephone lines and that's the way they treat them.


        • I worked cable TV for one summer when I was a kid. We never did any damage to the other cables. Looking back at the work, which was stringing cables on poles, it would be quite difficult & rare to accidentally damage phone or power cables.

      • "It's actually a perfect example of common sense." I think you are confusing the term "common sense" with the term "stupidity" The incumbent broad band providers are dragging their feet every inch of the way to prevent any competition. Be it at the pole or in the court room, every day they delay is another day that they can continue to flees the customers. We continues to be at the mercy of these Cretans and be forced to used them due to the monopoly they have over us. They simply use their power and m
      • They test them the same way the other company would. That's why we have standards.
  • Everyone is clapping along like harbor seals to the Net Neutrality narrative. However, is it the lack of competition that is the actual issue.

    https://www.wired.com/2013/07/... [wired.com]

    Its not NN that is important. That actually solidifies the monopolies. Ensure right of access to poles for other companies besides the big guys. And NN will be irrelevant.

    • by slack_justyb ( 862874 ) on Saturday November 25, 2017 @02:40AM (#55618955)

      Ensure right of access to poles for other companies besides the big guys

      Local governments set that. Any attempt at what you are purposing is literally the Federal government dictating what goes on what pole at the city level. I'm not sure anyone here could find something that would bring the "Don't tread on me" zealots out faster. No complaint on your proposal, but seriously that would incite a firestorm way larger than the whole "government death panels". Just saying, the uneducated are still a pretty powerful voting block and Comcast/AT&T do pretty much own the main ways those folks tend to get their FoxNe.., er, news.

      lack of competition that is the actual issue

      You are going to first inform folks why that's important to them, addressing the issue with terms like "competition" only works if folks know to shop around, or that shopping around is actually an option. Think about hospitals. People don't stop to think for a second that, "Oh hey, I can actually shop around for hospitals." ISPs are pretty much same game here, no one really understands why having multiple carriers in an area is a good thing, they just see "INTERNET". NN addresses the problem at the folks who "make" Internet. Now NN isn't a really good fit, but NN versus nothing, I'll take the first one.

      Its not NN that is important

      You're right, if folks were well informed and understood basic economics then this would be a no fuss issue. HOWEVER, we don't live in that world and addressing that problem is more than likely a multi decade thing and I'll be good and dead by that point, same for you more than likely. I get what you are saying, "trust the consumer..." Problem is that average rate consumer is an idiot and ISPs are really, really, really good at understanding and playing that to their advantage. So all things considered, I'll take the less impossible option to be implemented.

      • Not talking about the actual problem is not helpful.

        The more people talk about NN, the less they understand about the problem. In fact, I WANT the monopolies to abuse their power because only that will probably wake people up to the real issue here.

        You say "but the locals"... shine a flash light on it. Because if local competition were allowed, the whole issue would be moot.

        As to shopping around, you can't blame people for not shopping around when they have no choices.

        As to people are not well informed so w

        • You say "but the locals"... shine a flash light on it.

          You yourself are an incredible example of why that doesn't work. Literally, your reply is the exact reason why things like this don't work. If you cannot figure that out that's on you.

          talk about what is actually the problem instead of being a tool for big ISPs

          Your mom. That's basically what that whole waste of words gets.

          big ISPs that WANT this solution because it means no one can compete with them for the low low price of doing what they're already doing

          Your statement makes zero sense. The low price exists because they needn't share space with anyone. Start filling the poles or underground pipes holding the fiber with five or six different ISPs and suddenly you have a limited resource that drives prices up.

          • Sure, right of way to poles doesn't matter. You're right. We should maintain the monopoly.

            Good to know. You're so wise./s

  • Poor foresight on administrations enacted rules that incumbents took advantage as first installers. Presumed logic, pass these rules and we invest. Incumbents business plans to install first were based on such assumptions. They have an active asset that donâ(TM)t want others risking damage. Hindsight. While a bit different, similar dynamics slowing wireless small cell deployments but at least municipalities taking a harder look at the access to the assets.
  • Push them back (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lhowaf ( 3348065 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @11:04PM (#55618415)
    Pass an ordinance that requires the incumbents to respond to request to prepare their poles within (x) time or face penalties of $(y) dollars per hour. If the incumbents tell the city to pack sand, invoke eminent domain and kick their butts to the curb (revoke their semi-monopolies). After all, Google is standing by and ready to fill the need.
    Can you tell IANAL?
    • Pass an ordinance that requires the incumbents to respond to request to prepare their poles within (x) time or face penalties of $(y) dollars per hour. If the incumbents tell the city to pack sand, invoke eminent domain and kick their butts to the curb (revoke their semi-monopolies). After all, Google is standing by and ready to fill the need.
      Can you tell IANAL?

      If that doesn't work, maybe brave volunteers could start removing AT&T and Comcast equipment from the poles to serve the public interest.

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Yeah pretty sure that would be classified as terrorism these days and you're not spending a couple nights in county for civil disobedience and property destruction -- you're disappeared to spend the rest of your days in Gitmo.

    • I'm not a lawyer either, but I can read the ruling.

      The judges said the law could not be applied to privately owned poles of which only ~20% of all utility poles in the are are, mostly owned by AT&T.

      They way it is written and read, the city can use this ordinance on the city owned / publicly owned poles. Makes sense to me, if the city doesn't want to pay for installation and maintenance on the poles, they shouldn't be able to regulate the owner any more strict than the FCC does, but if the city owns th

      • by lhowaf ( 3348065 )
        Hence the part about eminent domain. Governments can seize private property for public use following the payment of just compensation for that property. Those poles can't cost all that much, can they?

I am here by the will of the people and I won't leave until I get my raincoat back. - a slogan of the anarchists in Richard Kadrey's "Metrophage"