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AT&T Launched Fiber On Tuesday. No, It Doesn't Change Much

fiber internet
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The physical roll-out of fiber Internet in Louisville is being led by AT&T. The telecommunication giant is, to date, the only Internet service provider in the city offering the ultra high speed connectivity to residences, and on Tuesday company officials announced plans to expand that effort.

The scope of the expansion, however, is unclear.

Hood Harris, president of AT&T Kentucky, declined to provide details of the company's expansion plan "in order to maintain a competitive advantage."

He did say certain homes, apartments and small businesses in Jefferson, Nelson, Oldham and Spencer counties are eligible to be connected to fiber Internet. To find out if you qualify, go here.

Fiber Internet is considerably faster than traditional cable connections. It's also seen as a catalyst for economic development in cities across the country.

In Louisville, interest in fiber connectivity piqued after Google Fiber announced plans to examine the feasibility of expanding their service to the city in September 2015.

Google Fiber currently operates in eight cities and is looking to expand to more than 10 additional others, including Louisville, according to their website.

Earlier this year city officials pushed the Louisville Metro Council to approve an ordinance aimed to streamline Google Fiber's installation of needed fiber infrastructure. The council responded and in February passed a so-called "one touch make ready" ordinance that allows high speed Internet providers to rearrange existing cabling on utility poles to make room for additional installations.

The ordinance led AT&T to file a lawsuit against Louisville Metro government, claiming the council overstepped its jurisdiction and such an ordinance would cause "irreparable harm."

Harris on Tuesday declined to comment on the lawsuit or if the company would withdraw the suit.

And he dismissed the idea that the AT&T residential fiber expansion is in response to Google Fiber's interest in Louisville.

"The difference is, we're doing it, we're here today, we're providing service to homes, we're selling it and we want to get as many people on our network as possible," he said. "That's what driving what we're doing."

Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, Louisville's chief economic development officer, also declined to comment on the lawsuit against the city.

She did say the competition within the Louisville market among high speed Internet providers is welcome.

"Hopefully, it's going to give consumers good options," she said.

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.