Google Makes Title II Push for Broadband, Citing Equal Access to Utility Infrastructure

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By Brandon Ross

Jan. 2 — Google Inc. said that deployment of its high-speed, fiber-optic broadband services would be aided by a reclassification of broadband under Title II of the Communications Act by the FCC, as the company would gain access to infrastructure such as utility poles, conduits and rights-of-way.

In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, posted Dec. 31, Google said that reclassifying broadband Internet access service as a “telecommunications” service under Title II of the Communications Act would increase competition and serve the public interest.

Google noted that under Section 224 of the Communications Act, public utilities and local exchange carriers are required to give equal access to their infrastructure to telecommunications providers and cable providers. Those benefits should now be extended to providers of broadband Internet access services, Google said.

Building network infrastructure is extremely expensive and remains a primary barrier to entry in the broadband access marketplace. The high cost of building infrastructure is also a main barrier to expanding broadband Internet access services—a congressional FCC mandate—into unserved regions of the country, like rural areas, where providers have said the cost to build out networks exceeds the revenue that could be recouped.

“Equal treatment of BIAS [broadband Internet access service] providers that are not cable system operators or telephone companies would promote competition as well as broadband investment and deployment,” Google said in its filing. “Shared use of existing infrastructure pursuant to Section 224 also helps to minimize the aesthetic and public safety concerns that arise when new entrants must deploy duplicative poles or dig their own, redundant trenches to build a network.”

Currently Denied Access

Google's relatively new venture into the BIAS marketplace via its Google Fiber service is currently not covered under Section 224 because its basic service does not offer either telephone service or cable service, putting it outside the scope of the law's infrastructure access benefits, the company said.

“Currently, therefore, a BIAS provider that does not offer its broadband access service on a common-carriage basis, and does not offer other cable television or telecommunications services over its network, lacks the federal protection Section 224 affords to traditional cable systems and telecommunications carriers,” Google said. “If BIAS were classified as a telecommunications service, however, then the statutory right of access to utility infrastructure would extend to all providers of BIAS, regardless of what services they otherwise provide.”

Forbearance Concerns

Also in the filing, Google tried to lay to rest the notion that the FCC should forbear from applying the Section 224 provisions.

“Although the Commission theoretically could entertain whether to forbear from conferring the benefits of Section 224 on BIAS providers, it should not do so,” Google said. “As noted, the Commission has recognized that access to poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way owned or controlled by utilities is essential for broadband deployment.

“Forbearance could force competitors to build duplicative infrastructure when they do enter a market,” Google said. “Installing new poles and conduits when existing facilities have available capacity entails unnecessary construction, unjustified risks to public safety, unwanted burdens on municipal governments, and unattractive landscapes that displease residents and local business owners.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Ross in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Barbagallo at

The full Google FCC filing is available here: