West Des Moines had planned to provide ultra-high-speed Google Fiber internet throughout the city, but the effort is being halted by a lawsuit from internet provider Mediacom. The legal action states the city violated multiple state laws in its pursuit of connectivity, according to the Des Moines Register.
The arrangement with Google was applauded by city officials at the time, saying it met the goals the city set forth in their WDM 2036 strategic plan. West Des Moines would be the 19th city nationwide to receive a Google Fiber network and the first in Iowa, according to the account.
The complaint cites an Iowa law designed to bolster development of blighted areas with fiber optic cable. Mediacom said the law was misused and misinterpreted to favor Google by issuing bonds worth more than $40 million to build out the network. The company, which employs about 400 workers in West Des Moines, contends the city never opened the project for competitive bids.
City officials replied to the suit saying the contract with Google was deemed a necessity if they were to meet the area’s demands for better internet service. Google Fiber was scheduled to pay the city $2.25 per month for each household that connects to the network, for a minimum of $4.5 million over the 20-year partnership, the Register reported.
Mediacom said the city negotiated the deal in secret and with an absence of public input. In addition, the company cites a conflict of interest, as City Council, Matthew McKinney, is Google’s chief lobbyist for Iowa. Although McKinney recused himself when it came to a final vote on the plan, Mediacom said he was an active participant in early negotiations.
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