Consumers really like Google Fiber. Or, at the very least, they like the idea of Google Fiber: when the company says it’s considering bringing its super-speedy internet service to town, prospective subscribers happily sign up and towns do what they need to do to make themselves attractive to the business. And that sits very, very poorly with the companies that are already in town and don’t want to deal with a pesky thing like competition.
That’s what’s happening this week in two different cities, Louisville and Nashville. The companies fighting, and the tactics they’re using, are different, but the overall outcome is the same.
In Louisville, it’s Charter doing the complaining, as the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.
Charter is telling the city that it’s unfair that they are being held to different standards, in a different franchise agreement, than Google Fiber.
In a letter to the city, Charter wrote that there is “no justification for different regulatory treatment,” and claimed that they were trying to advance consumers’ best interests. “Consumers win when they have a fair choice of service providers,” a spokesperson told the paper. “That’s why Louisville Metro and the area’s suburban cities should make sure all like service providers are treated the same.”
Charter is not the first provider to claim that Louisville treats the area’s broadband siblings too differently. AT&T filed a suit against the city of Louisville back in February,
Google, meanwhile, has not yet formally said whether or not it will bring Fiber to the area at all. The city is still on a shortlist of “potential” cities, in which Google is “working with city leaders to explore the possibility of building a super fast network” in the area.
Nashville, on the other hand, does actually have its Google Fiber rollout in progress, with construction underway. And the incumbents are fighting there, too.
Over in Tennessee, it’s Comcast, not Charter, that’s raising objections, and AT&T once again keeping them company.
Nashville is considering the same kind of pole access regulations that Louisville passed, and the incumbents aren’t happy. And as DSL Reports, well, reports, they’re trying basically everything.
AT&T told the site that it’s concerned that the proposed new ordinance — which they have not seen — would interfere with their agreement with their union workers.
Additionally, the AT&T representative said, “We have serious concerns with other companies being allowed to perform work on our facilities,” and then deferred to the FCC claiming it, not local government, has authority.
Comcast didn’t make the same excuses, but did suggest that the legislation would be better off not seeing the light of day anytime soon, or perhaps ever. “We believe that the appropriate next step would be to conduct a meeting of stakeholders, a representative told DSL Reports, adding, “this should be accomplished prior to any proposed legislation.”
As we’ve seen over and over again, high-speed broadband competition is hard to come by in huge swaths of the country. And one reason for that is because incumbent companies, especially AT&T, have a habit of throwing their weight around when competition does finally (try to) come to town.