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Judge sides with Louisville in 'Google Fiber' utility pole case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A federal judge has dismissed AT&T’s lawsuit against Louisville Metro Government over a local utility pole law aimed at clearing the way for new broadband providers like Google Fiber.

Updated: Aug 16, 2017 5:30 PM EDT

Judge David J. Hale of U.S. District Court in Louisville signed the order on Thursday, according to court records.

The Louisville Metro Council adopted the so-called “One Touch, Make Ready” ordinance in February 2016 at the behest of Google Fiber.

The law gives new telecommunications providers the ability to rearrange existing providers’ equipment on utility poles, speeding up the deployment of new broadband networks into the community.

The Federal Communications Commission weighed in on Louisville’s side in the closely watched case.

Hale ruled Thursday that the ordinance is within Louisville Metro’s authority to manage its public rights-of-way.

AT&T argued Louisville overstepped its bounds to matters that are the purview of the Kentucky Public Service Commission and the FCC.

AT&T can appeal Hale's order.

"We are currently reviewing the decision and our next steps," AT&T spokesman Joe Burgan said.

Metro Council member Bill Hollander, a sponsor of the ordinance, called it a "common-sense regulation" and Hale's decision "good news for Louisville residents."

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is "very pleased with the ruling," a spokesman said.

A spokesperson for Google Fiber said the service has begun construction of its network in Louisville but declined to elaborate. There is no estimate for when it will become available in Louisville.

Google Fiber said in a statement that it hopes other cities and the FCC follow Louisville's lead in adopting "forward-looking" broadband policies.

"Google Fiber is thrilled with the decision confirming Louisville Metro's authority to enact the One Touch Make Ready ordinance. We have long said, and continue to believe, that local governments have the right to determine how to manage their rights of way and create processes that pave the way for broadband choice for their residents," the company said.

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