Why AT&T says it can deny Google Fiber access to its poles in Austin

Why AT&T says it can deny Google Fiber access to its poles in Austin: Google’s quest to build a fiber network in Austin, Texas has hit a snag in the form of AT&T.

AT&T owns about 20 percent of the utility poles in Austin, with the rest of them being owned by the city. Instead of increasing congestion by adding more poles, the City Council was expected to vote last week “to force AT&T to allow Google Inc. use of its utility poles to install its planned high-speed Google Fiber network in the city,” as the Austin American-Statesman reported last Tuesday. The Council drafted a new ordinance making it easier for communication service providers to secure pole attachments at reasonable prices.

The vote was postponed until January 23, 2014, however. AT&T and Google are expected to negotiate an agreement before that date, but AT&T’s public stance is that it doesn’t have to let Google use its poles.

“Google has the right to attach to our poles, under federal law, as long as it qualifies as a telecom or cable provider, as they themselves acknowledge,” AT&T Public Affairs VP Tracy King told the American-Statesman. “We will work with Google when they become qualified, as we do with all such qualified providers.”