Google Fiber has been in Nashville nearly two years, laid fiber optic cable for miles in every direction, and has three customers.
Well, to be a little more accurate they’ve got three buildings hooked up because in order for Google Fiber to work in Nashville they have to come in via telephone poles. Unfortunately if you dig about six inches down in Nashville you’ll hit rock, so as a fiber town we’re going to be on poles to the houses.
Getting onto the poles has been a fight. They’re owned mostly by the Nashville Electric service which runs power over the top lines and then leases out space further down to phone/data carriers, the two main ones being Comcast and AT&T.
The big slowdown point for Google has been that in order to get fiber from underground to your house they need to go from a hub, up a pole, and then along a fiber optic cable that ends at your house.
This is relatively simple wiring. I mean there are things such as tensioners and other equipment they might need to place dangling in midair, but an average run should not be something that requires the most skilled and expert of touches along with a thesis written on how it was accomplished.
In most cases in order to get on a pole everyone who has equipment (wires, signal boosters, two shoes thrown over a telephone wire,) is given a notice that Customer X (Google,) needs access to this pole at this height and you need to verify that your equipment is not in the way (or move it,) and then check back with the pole owner who will give a go-ahead.
This can take months per pole assuming that the checks and check-offs are done within time frames contractually agreed upon. Usually no equipment needs to be moved and a visual inspection could be done in a matter of minutes. But it’s taking forever. At 19 months in Nashville Google was on fewer than 50 poles out of 44,000 they need.
One Touch Make Ready allows a pole-approved contractor to come out, see that there’s no issue, and do the wiring in one stop. An order of fiber from 11 poles down can be done in a day by one truck rather than three months with three different carrier’s people up on poles checking the same equipment and doing the same job that one crew could do, disrupting traffic over and over again.
Part of it is heel dragging as Comcast and AT&T have no real incentive to help Google other than the threat of paltry fines imposed by breaking a contractual window. The existing carriers on a pole can also simply test 99 of the 100 poles they need to and sit on their thumbs on the remaining one and be fined for one instance of creating a roadblock.
Comcast, when real competition is in town, will lose a large number of their customers simply because the customer service has been abysmal. I can’t complain too much about the business class internet they provide, but I dumped them as soon as I could as a TV provider.
AT&T will quickly lose the ability to charge a business thousands a month for a dedicated fiber connection as Google walks in at $75-250 a month for business class fiber. My last quote on fiber by AT&T was over $1000 a month for a 100mbit connection. This’ll give you an idea of how fast people will be jumping.
AT&T and Comcast are expected to file lawsuits and hold up the One Touch Make Ready law as long as possible. Given that they’re fighting for their lives at this point against a competitor that’s charging reasonable rates for data you can assume they’ll have no issues keeping this in court as long as is possible.
Some other bills were proposed against One Touch Make Ready by a couple of lawmakers, both turned out to be written by companies named above. Eh, dirty pool.
Other things accomplished by the Nashville Metro Council last night include the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana making last night the first metro council meeting dubbed “High Fiber”.[wkrn]