FCC Weighs In on Louisville Pole Attachment Dispute

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The FCC is backing Louisville, KY in a pole attachment dispute between the city, AT&T and Google Fiber.

Louisville has a One Touch Make Ready (OTMR) ordinance designed to give competitors faster access to utility poles. AT&T sued the local government in Louisville in February, arguing local rules are preempted by the FCC’s pole attachment rules, reports ars technica.

But sometimes that’s not true, according to the Commission, which has now submitted a filing to the court in the case that’s favorable to Louisville. States can opt out of the federal pole attachment rules if they certify to the FCC they can regulate them, according to the account. Kentucky is one of 20 states that has opted out. (see our top story for more details on the FCC’s perspective)

In its lawsuit, AT&T asserted it has 60 days or more to modify wires to make room for new pole users; it also argues Louisville lacks jurisdiction to regulate pole attachments under state law.

Google Fiber and other potential new entrants that want to attach wires to utility poles often must wait for existing users to make room. The FCC said in the filing, existing pole users have little incentive to make those changes quickly if the new user is a competitor, reports ars technica. One Touch Make Ready ordinances enable one company to make all the changes — faster than waiting for an incumbent to do the work.

AT&T told ars technica it’s reviewing the filing and has no comment yet. Google Fiber said in a statement it supports “the FCC’s conclusion that there is no conflict between the federal pole attachment regulations and the principles of OTMR.”

November 3, 2016

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