AT&T Loses Court Challenge Over Louisville Pole Attachments

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By Tara Jeffries

AT&T Inc. failed Aug. 16 to stop a Louisville, Ky., ordinance allowing third parties to rearrange wires to make room for new networks on utility poles.

The U.S. District Court in the Western District of Kentucky dismissed AT&T’s bid to block the ordinance, which allows users to tinker with utility-pole wires to install new communications networks. The ordinance could help pave the way for new fiber internet service providers.

The ruling could have implications for internet service providers fighting “make-ready” local rules that allow parties like fiber providers to rearrange wires on poles in other jurisdictions BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government, W.D. Ky., 3:16-cv-00124, 8/16/17 .

AT&T, which is an owner or joint user of most poles in Lousiville, has argued that the ordinance would allow pole users to “seize AT&T’s property, and to alter or relocate AT&T’s property, without AT&T’s consent and, in most circumstances, without prior notice to AT&T.”

AT&T also said that the ordinance conflicts with Federal Communications Commission rules. However, the FCC has argued that its pole-attachment regulations don’t apply in Kentucky because the state has opted out of them.

“According to the FCC, Kentucky is a reverse-preemption state, and therefore federal pole attachment regulations do not apply in Kentucky,” Judge David J. Hale wrote.

An FCC spokesman declined to comment. An AT&T spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Jeffries at tjeffries@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

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