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Judge Sides With AT&T, Comcast Over Google Fiber In Final Nashville Ruling

Google Fiber

AT&T and Comcast have prevailed in their lawsuit against Metro Nashville over the speed with which Nashville Electric Service utility poles may be set up for Google Fiber

In a ruling, federal Judge Aleta Trauger nullified Metro's "One Touch Make Ready" ordinance as it applied to NES utility poles. The goal of the ordinance was to give Google Fiber and other ISPs faster access to utility poles.

Under "One Touch Make Ready," a single company, such as Google Fiber, could make the necessary adjustments on utility poles to facilitate their service, rather than having to wait for existing providers — AT&T and Comcast, in this case — to send work crews.

Trauger wrote: "[The ordinance] is ... void or voidable as to utility poles owned by Nashville Electric Service because adoption of the Ordinance exceeded Metro Nashville’s authority and violated the Metro Charter... [Nashville is] permanently enjoined from applying the Ordinance to utility poles owned by Nashville Electric Service." 

NES owns about 80% of the poles in Metro Nashville. Previously, plaintiffs AT&T and Comcast won a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Victoria Roberts in Tennessee that nullified the rule as it applied to privately owned poles, which is about 20% of the total.

Metro reportedly has no plans to appeal the ruling.

The ruling is unlikely to stop the growth of Google Fiber in Nashville. While the suit was being adjudicated, Google Fiber started using a construction technique called microtrenching to route its service into parts of Nashville.

In October, the company, after obtaining excavation permits, started digging grooves into street asphalt about an inch wide and at least four inches deep. Google Fiber cable is then put inside the grooves, which are covered with foam and quick-dry concrete.

As of December, Google Fiber had pulled more than 2,000 microtrenching permits, WPLN reports.