The top ocean lobby group says Google is blowing smoke when it comes to Title II and pole attachment rights.
Google told the Federal Communications Commission that reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act would help Google and other companies gain access to infrastructure controlled by utilities. Section 224 of Title II covers pole attachments, and Google urged the FCC to enforce this section if broadcasting under Title II.
But that doesn’t even matter, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) argued in a filing today, said that “Google may already have granted itself access rights under Section 224, despite its claims to the contrary. Google’s letter said that Google Fiber ‘does not have federal access rights under Section 224’ because it offers in the service ‘Internet Protocol video service is not traditional cable TV.’ But as the NCTA has explained on several occasions… the law is clear that facilities-based providers of Internet Protocol television (‘IPTV’) services qualify as cable operators under the Telecommunications Act of 1934, as amended ( ‘Act’) The Act defines a ‘cable operator’ as a person who ‘provides cable service over a cable system,’ without any reference to the technology (IP-based, QAM-based, or otherwise) used to provide such service .
Google declined to comment when contacted by Ars.
Google faces trouble getting pole attachments in Austin, Texas, where AT&T owns about 20 percent of the utility’s poles. AT&T said in late 2013 that Google does not qualify as a telephone or cable provider and therefore does not have the right to attach AT&T bars. The companies apparently struck a deal, as Google is now preparing to provide wireless service in Austin.
Update: AT&T told Ars that “In early 2014, AT&T and Google entered into a national agreement regarding Google’s access to AT&T’s networks in the city. The agreement gave Google access to AT&T’s networks “T if AT&T gets good terms like Google gets. for access to city infrastructure, utilities, transportation, properties and rights of way.”
Google’s letter to the FCC on December 30 argued that the company does not accept Section 224’s protections. direct or controlled means’ by an application,” Google wrote. “Currently, therefore, a BIAS (broadcast Internet access service) provider that does not offer its broadband access service on a multicast basis, does not offer other cable television or telecommunications services over its network, is not protected by Federal Section 224. to traditional cable systems and communications transmissions.”
NCTA argues that Google can still become a common carrier if it wants to, regardless of what the FCC does. “Google Fiber may also receive pole attachment rights under Section 224 by electing to integrate the transmission component of its broadband internet access service and operating as a telecommunications provider subject to the obligations and restrictions of Title II,” NCTA wrote. However, Google Fiber has refused to submit to Title II regulation in exchange for pole attachment rights—acknowledging that the significant burdens associated with Title II would outweigh any benefits that Section 224 may offer. And if Google Fiber doesn’t want to get involved. to enforce Title II regulation itself, it would make even more sense to impose Title II on every broadcast company simply to assure Google Fiber of its pole attachment rights.”
The ocean lobby has also argued that Title II will drive up the cost of pole attachment for its members.
If cable providers are classified as telecommunications carriers, “there will be a possibility of significant increases in the costs that we will have to pay utilities for the same attachments that we have,” NCTA general counsel Steve Morris told Ars recently. “How you are punished affects what you have to pay. It’s not a logic rule but that’s how it works. “