Google Fiber, Comcast, AT&T fail to reach compromise over Nashville rollout

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – With Google Fiber being installed at dial-up pace, the future of the gigabyte service in Nashville remains in doubt.

Google, Comcast and AT&T were unable to reach an agreement over an impasse over access to utility poles during negotiations led by Mayor Megan Barry’s office Wednesday.

Barry previously urged the Nashville Electric Service to help seek a resolution among Google Fiber, AT&T and Comcast regarding the city’s utility pole policy.

Google warned it may pull its planned fiber optic broadband service from Nashville if it can’t access utility poles in what is being called “One Touch Make Ready.”

Chris Levendos, head of Google Fiber’s network deployment, said the impasse is delaying the rollout of fiber – and possibly endangering it altogether.

Google wants Nashville to pass a similar ordinance to one enacted in Louisville, Kentucky, to overcome what the company describes as an overly burdensome process to attach cables.

Comcast and AT&T maintain current rules requiring their own employees to move the lines prevent outages and limit liability and safety concerns.

Joelle Phillips, the president of AT&T Tennessee, released a statement, which reads:

AT&T is grateful for the leadership of Mayor Barry and for the time and effort devoted by members of her staff who worked with us today.

While I am frustrated that more progress was not made, there were many positives. Comcast, AT&T, NES and members of the Mayor’s administration identified and committed to several specific proposals that would help all companies who are serious about investing and deploying broadband in Nashville. In addition, it was helpful to walk through Google’s data which revealed that Google often overstates the time it takes for AT&T to complete certain work.

We are willing to continue talking and working together. That’s the way business in Nashville ordinarily makes progress.

A representative with Google thanked Mayor Barry and NES for their time and attention to the issue.

“Improving Nashville’s make-ready construction process is the key enabler for Nashville’s access to a faster Internet. We continue to support Councilman Davis’ proposal for a 21st century framework, which will allow new entrants like Google Fiber to bring broadband to more Nashvillians efficiently, safely and quickly,” said Google representative Amol Naik.

The mayor’s office expressed disappointment that a compromise could not be reached.

Rich Riebeling, Chief Operating Officer for Metro Nashville, released the following statement following the conclusion of discussions:

While there was some positive progress to work on issues related to the speed at which fiber is rolled out in Nashville, there appears to be a philosophical disagreement between the parties about the need for and nature of legislation that would address the make ready process. Regardless of any legislation or litigation that may occur as a result of efforts to address the differences between the companies, the Mayor’s Office will continue to work with NES, Public Works, and all fiber providers to find improvements to the fiber deployment process that will ensure high-quality, high-speed internet service is available in all neighborhoods throughout Davidson County.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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