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Can Austin Force AT&T to Share Infrastructure with Google?

Blessed with two companies that want to provide gigabit Internet service, Austin, Texas, is stepping into a dispute between them about infrastructure.

by / December 12, 2013

Austin, Texas -- blessed with two companies that want to provide gigabit Internet service -- is stepping into a dispute between them. Both Google and AT&T are racing to roll out gigabit Internet service in the Texas capital. Google says it will have gigabit service in the city by next year, and AT&T is planning a 300 Mbps rollout this month with upgrades to 1 Gbps by the middle of 2014.

Enter the lowly telephone pole. Austin owns about 80 percent of the city's utility poles, but AT&T owns the remaining 20 percent. And AT&T doesn't want a competitor to use its infrastructure. So today, the Austin City Council will vote on whether to force AT&T to allow Google to use its poles for the competing service, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

The city’s possible ruling wouldn’t allow just Google to use the utility poles, but all communication service providers. The ordinance would allow “place attachments … on the user’s poles within the city’s right-of-way on rates, terms and conditions that are just, reasonable and non-discriminatory.”

Austin doesn't want to be studded with redundant poles for each company -- and thinks it has the authority to regulate the city right of way -- and so sees this as a way to speed up the rollout.

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