AT&T Kentucky President Hood Harris and Louisville Forward chief Mary Ellen Wiederwohl at Tuesday press conference announcing the expansion of AT&T Fiber
AT&T Kentucky President Hood Harris and Louisville Forward chief Mary Ellen Wiederwohl at Tuesday’s press conference announcing AT&T Fiber | Photo by Joe Sonka

AT&T is expanding 1-gigabit internet service to customers in and around Louisville — a city the company currently is suing due to an ordinance enticing Google Fiber to bring the same ultra high-speed internet here.

During a Tuesday press conference attended by city officials, AT&T Kentucky president Hood Harris said the new AT&T Fiber service offering ultra-fast internet speeds has launched in parts of Jefferson, Nelson, Oldham and Spencer counties, with plans to expand into southern Indiana in the near future. Harris said nearly 80 condominium and apartment developments in Louisville already have access to the new fiber network, with internet-only pricing starting as low as $90 a month.

Harris said AT&T Fiber services also are available in single-family residences in Louisville but declined to specify the exact neighborhoods or total number of eligible households, citing “competitive reasons.” However, he did say that previous media reports indicated such services have expanded to several neighborhoods in Jeffersontown and Beechmont, and those in other eligible neighborhoods already have received mail advertising the availability of AT&T Fiber. Interested customers also can check AT&T’s website to see if they are eligible for the service.

AT&T Fiber will expand to as many Louisville neighborhoods as possible in the near future, Harris said, with such determinations made depending on infrastructure and customer demand.

AT&T recently sued Louisville Metro Government following Metro Council’s passage of a “One Touch Ready” ordinance, which allowed broadband providers to rearrange the equipment of other companies on utility poles — a move clearly made to entice Google Fiber to choose Louisville as the next city of its expansion. AT&T argues that this ordinance encroaches on other state and federal regulations, and recently filed another lawsuit against Nashville for passing a similar law. Additionally, Louisville’s cable provider Charter Communications filed a separate lawsuit this month against the city, claiming it is over-regulated in comparison to companies such as AT&T.

Google Fiber filed an amicus brief in support of Louisville’s government two weeks ago, though recent reports have claimed Google is considering stepping back from plans to install fiber cables in several cities, instead looking toward less expensive wireless technology.

at&t fiberHarris declined to comment on AT&T’s pending litigation but said that “despite everything else that is going on, this is a really exciting day for us at AT&T and for the city of Louisville. This marks a really significant step towards making sure that we stay competitive, as we try to attract a skilled and talented workforce, as we try to attract new businesses in here.”

“We’ve got competitors, we welcome Google to the market and other competitors, but we’re really excited about the product we offer,” said Harris.

Mary Ellen Weiderwohl, head of the city’s economic development arm Louisville Forward, also spoke at the press conference, saying that “technology advancements like AT&T Fiber help to make Louisville an attractive place for talented, connected workers to live, to work and to create.”

“AT&T and its predecessors have been a part of Louisville’s history for a very long time, we’re proud of that history and very grateful for your continued investment in our city and its future,” said Wiederwohl.

Speaking afterward to reporters, Wiederwohl also declined to comment on AT&T’s lawsuit against the city, but said the administration of Mayor Greg Fischer has “always welcomed multiple providers to the market.”

“This is kind of Econ 101: Competition is good,” said Wiederwohl. “So the more folks that we have in our market providing this ultra high-speed internet is going to be good for citizens, good for business, and good for talent and company attraction.”

Despite reports that Google Fiber is reassessing its expansion of fiber cables to several cities, Wiederwohl said Google Fiber selecting Louisville as its next city is “absolutely” still on the table.

“We continue to have great negotiations and conversations with (Google), as well as several other potential providers,” said Wiederwohl. “We are really in ‘the more, the merrier’ camp here, because that competition will drive down costs and provide more access and opportunity for all of our citizens.”

Wiederwohl declined to comment on Google’s timeline for that decision and if the outcome of the AT&T lawsuit will be a factor, but added, “We have a great dialogue with Google and several other providers. I think good things are ahead for Louisville in this category and many others.”

Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]


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