A proposed Louisville Metro Council ordinance aimed at easing the installation of ultra-fast Internet infrastructure violates state law, says a spokesman for the Kentucky Public Service Commission.
The ordinance, which the council is expected to consider on Thursday, would allow anyone needing to attach new cabling to utility pole to rearrange existing cables without notice. The legislation sailed through a council committee earlier this month.
The ordinance could help attract ultra-fast Internet providers, including Google Fiber, to Louisville.
Councilman Bill Hollander, a District 9 Democrat who sponsored the ordinance, said the ordinance would "reduce disruption and inconveniences on our streets and make the whole process faster, and make the community more broadband-ready."
An attorney representing Time Warner Cable questions the legality of such a measure, saying the council lacks legal authority to regulate equipment attached to utility poles, The Courier-Journal reported Thursday.
And he may be right.
The ordinance, as it currently stands, is illegal, said Andrew Melnykovych, a spokesman for the Kentucky Public Service Commission.
The PSC is the state agency that regulates the service and rates of public utilities.
Melnykovych said the PSC does not have authority over Time Warner's utility poles.
But the utility poles owned by Louisville Gas & Electric and AT & T of Kentucky are under the PSC's jurisdiction. It's the state agency's authority to dictate what and how equipment is attached to those poles, he said.
He said the PSC has procedures allowing Internet service providers to attach needed infrastructure to standing poles.
"That spells out how you hang it, how much it will cost you for the privilege of hanging it and anybody, Google or whoever else it is, that wants to use another companies infrastructure to hang their fiber or whatever it is, there is a process to doing that," he said.
"Anybody that wants to do it has to follow the process," Melnykovych said.
Hollander said he is unaware of the ordinance's conflict with PSC regulations.
"We went through the normal process of working with the Jefferson County Attorney," he said.
"A municipality has a right to control work in it's rights-of-way."
Ted Smith, the city's chief of innovation, and Time Warner's attorney did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.
Councilman Kevin Kramer, a District 11 Republican and chair of the Republican caucus, echoed the notion that the council followed the guidance of the Jefferson County Attorney's Office.
"That's not to say that every time we pass something there's not an issue that might come up again later," he said. "It is something we might have to deal with."
A spokeswoman for the county attorney's office did not intermediately return a request for comment.