Lancaster’s government wants a seat at the table in the lawsuit filed by PPL against MAW Communications, the city’s community broadband partner.
The city filed a “petition to intervene” Tuesday that, if approved, would allow it to be a party in the case.
That “guarantees that our counsel can be made fully aware of all developments and can work to actively protect our interests,” Mayor Danene Sorace said.
The move represents a change of course for the city. Former mayor Rick Gray’s administration had stressed that it was not involved in the suit, though it separately planned to petition the Federal Communications Commission for changes to PPL’s rules on MAW’s behalf.
MAW, a small telecom utility based in Reading, has been installing a municipal fiber-optic network for the city.
Half the bandwith is reserved for city functions. The other half is for a consumer broadband offering called LanCity Connect.
Underwritten by city loans, LanCity Connect debuted last year, but deployment ran into difficulties and had to be slowed down.
Then, in December, PPL sued MAW, saying the small company had installed equipment on PPL’s poles without authorization.
PPL alleged MAW made unsafe attachments and sought a preliminary injunction to compel their removal.
The suit is ongoing. In the meantime, according to court records, MAW agreed to stop making new attachments and to provide PPL an inventory of attachments already made. PPL will decide what work needs to be done to ensure safety.
If MAW disagrees with any of PPL’s safety assessments, the state Public Utility Commission would decide the issue.
The city knew all along that community broadband would be a challenge but continues to believe it’s in residents’ best interest, Sorace said.
PPL sought several times to meet with Lancaster’s administration regarding the pole connections, but no meeting has taken place, PPL spokesman Paul Wirth said.
“We remain willing to work with the city,” he said.