On September 6, Google’s Model One Touch Make Ready bill is up for second reading. I have told all of the main players that I won’t decide my vote until the day of the vote. But, I think they all know that I am leaning against voting for it. Here’s what I think I know —
I want Nashville to have better broadband access. I want it to be deployed more quickly.
Unlike some threats of litigation that we hear about, AT&T’s threat of litigation is very real. There is a lawsuit in Louisville already. If we pass Google’s proposed ordinance, all AT&T has to do is change some names and details in their existing lawsuit and file it here.
One of the things I do for a living is help clients make assessments and business decisions about existing and potential legal disputes. While I’m no pro at federal telecommunications laws and regulations and I make no predictions about whether AT&T or Google is right about the lawsuit in Louisville, I do know enough about the legal issues to be 100% confident that both sides have legitimate, good faith legal arguments to make. The Louisville lawsuit will almost certainly be decided ultimately by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati. This will take years.
If at all possible, Nashville should not spend tax dollars to litigate a sister lawsuit to the one going on in Louisville. A lawsuit in Nashville would end up in exactly the same place as the Louisville lawsuit – the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. If possible, I would rather avoid spending dollars litigating when we could instead wait to see what the 6th Circuit says in the Louisville lawsuit.
In addition, while there is talk about wanting a 21st century solution for broadband deployment, I am not sure about this premise. I mean, is it really a 21st century solution to have a minimum of three companies all deploying literally identical sets of glass fiber on our telephone poles? Wouldn’t a 21st century solution be to deploy high speed wireless technology? Google already is experimenting with wireless in a few other cities.
Because high speed wireless deployment should be our real goal, and because I do not understand why we would opt into a guaranteed lawsuit that is already underway in Louisville, I prefer an agreed solution where the parties all agree on a way to make the process go more quickly in Nashville while the litigation is being resolved. This would require compromise by all – Google wouldn’t have the process go as quickly as they would like, but it would move more quickly than the incumbents might like. I think the Metro Government has conveyed, and must continue to convey, to all of these companies that we demand an agreed approach and that we won’t participate as a litigant in their ongoing nationwide court battles.
I have urged this approach to all parties. And I have told all parties that, more than anything else, I am in favor of working out a compromise. I have told all parties that I will most likely vote against the interests of whoever I think is being the least cooperative in reaching an agreed upon solution.
Honestly, it is a close call about who is being the least cooperative in working something out while we wait for the Louisville litigation to get resolved. As of today, my opinion is that Google is (just barely) being the least cooperative in reaching a compromise agreement. For this reason, if I had to vote today, I would be leaning toward voting against the bill on second reading.
There are still 5 days until the Council meeting – so this might change depending on how any further negotiations go. I urge Google, AT&T, Comcast, NES, and the Mayor’s Office to continue their discussions.