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Comcast sues Nashville over Google Fiber law

The lawsuit claims that Nashville's new ordinance, which facilitates the installation of Google Fiber, violates FCC rules.


Similar to AT&T's suit against the city of Louisville, Comcast has filed a lawsuit against the government of Nashville, Tennessee and its mayor, to stop a new ordinance that makes it easier to move telecommunications hardware around on a utility pole. 

The poles are mostly owned by Nashville Electric Service or AT&T, but Comcast has wires on many poles and has control over how these wires are handled. When Google Fiber wants to attach new wires to a pole, it needs to wait for Comcast to move its wire to make room, and this is where the new ordinance becomes controversial.

According to Comcast's complaint, the ordinance, called Nashville One Touch Make Ready, permits third parties to move, alter or rearrange Comcast's components without Comcast's consent and with far less notice than is required by federal laws. For this reason, Comcast asked the court to declare the ordinance invalid and ban Nashville from enforcing it.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry defended the ordinance, saying that it "has been litigated in the court of public opinion, and the public overwhelmingly supports this measure designed to speed up the deployment of high-speed fiber in Nashville."

Google did not immediately return CNET's request for comment. Comcast offered the following statement:

"From day one, we have been committed to working with local stakeholders on a collaborative solution that improves the pace of broadband deployment in Nashville. Unfortunately, the City Council has chosen to adopt an ordinance that violates existing FCC rules, creates significant safety concerns and increases the likelihood for service disruptions. We prefer a business-to-business agreement that reduces permitting times, eliminates unnecessary requirements, improves field coordination between parties and speeds up the overall rate of make-ready work. One Touch creates enormous problems for consumers that we cannot let stand, and we have no choice but to pursue legal action that protects our customers and our network."

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, is currently in litigation.

Editor's note (June 13, 2017): Updated with additional context.