Google Fiber Update: Utility Poles, Now Free Reign

While the title is somewhat cryptic, Louisville city council passed a measure 23-0 to facilitate easier access to utility poles within the city for 3rd party high speed internet providers.

While underground cabling may still be needed in certain areas, one of the most cost effective ways of implementation is to use already existing infrastructure (utility poles) for new cables. But therein lies the issue: city council estimates that 25 – 40 percent of all utility poles are owned by AT&T. While other companies own the remainder, the conflict of interest here is quite apparent – why would a mega-corporation with millions of dollars on the line allow another company to use their own resources against them? But despite stakeholder protests, the city council decided that the needs of the community outweighed the concerns of private property ownership, as this measure will now allow companies like Google or other small ISPs to string up their own cable on utility poles — given proper notice to the poles’ owner and liability for any damages during installation/reconfiguration.

While there may still be room for abuse of this statute to help delay competition, this is an important step in the fight against these mega-corps to free up their monopolistic hold over the Louisville ISP market.