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Judge Tosses AT&T Challenge to Google

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

'You're outta there!' a judge declared, tossing out AT&T's lawsuit to stop other internet service providers in Louisville, Kentucky.

In a city famous for its "Louisville Slugger" baseball bat, Judge David Hale dismissed AT&T's lawsuit against a local government ordinance that gives other ISP's quicker access to utility poles. The "One Touch Make Ready" ordinance allows competitors to make adjustments to utility poles rather than wait for AT&T and others to move their wires.

"Louisville Metro has an important interest in managing its public rights-of-way to maximize efficiency and enhance public safety," Hale wrote in dismissing the case with prejudice. The ruling cleared the way for Google Fiber, AT&T's biggest competitor, to get back in the game.

AT&T v. Google

Louisville has a history of great competition, hosting the annual Kentucky Derby at the Churchill Downs race course. The city tells the story at the Kentucky Derby Museum, which also hosted a solar eclipse tour this year.

But the city is most famous for its baseball bats, which are manufactured at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. A giant baseball bat leans against the entrance, where more than 300,000 visitors go each year.

In the contest against Google, AT&T went after the city's Ordinance 21 to thwart the competition. AT&T and Louisville Gas & Electric own most of the utility poles in the city.

The company claimed the city had no state or federal jurisdiction to regulate the poles. Ars Technica reported that the utility wanted a head start on Google for the fiber optics business, but that the judge called "foul."

Shrugging Off Setbacks

"While Ordinance No. 21 imposes requirements that are different from the FCC's regulations, AT&T's federal preemption argument fails as a matter of law because the FCC regulations at issue do not apply in Kentucky," the judge said.

Shrugging off setbacks and legal threats by AT&T to shut it down, Google has continued construction on its fiber optic network in Louisville. However, the company has suspended operations in 10 cities and cut back on staff in other areas.

The Alphabet-owned ISP has started using wireless technologies instead of fiber in some cities, Google reported. The wireless technology is less expensive for multi-unit residential and businesses, but not so much for suburban single-family homes.

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