Mediacom asks FCC to review Google Fiber in West Des Moines, IA

May 14, 2021
Mediacom asks FCC to review discriminatory rights-of-way management practices in West Des Moines, IA. The operator contends the city’s exclusive arrangement with Google Fiber denies residents access to affordable broadband choices.

MCC Iowa LLC, a subsidiary of Mediacom Communications Corporation, filed a petition on May 12 with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking a review of the discriminatory rights-of-way management practices of the City of West Des Moines, Iowa.

Filed pursuant to Section 253 of the Communications Act of 1934, the petition centers around the $50 million taxpayer financed conduit network West Des Moines is constructing for the exclusive use of Google Fiber and the discriminatory burdens Mediacom claims the city is imposing on all other telecommunications and internet service providers (ISPs) using the rights-of-way.

The operator charges these actions harm competition and deny residents, especially in developing areas of the city, access to low-cost broadband choices. As detailed in Mediacom's filing, the city’s arrangements with Google Fiber violate Section 253 in at least three ways:

  • First, the city gave Google Fiber a large, exclusive subsidy that distorts communications competition in the West Des Moines market.
  • Second, the city granted Google Fiber exclusive rights-of-way access and other significant benefits that enable it to deploy its network far more cheaply and efficiently than other ISPs.
  • Third, the design of the conduit network forecloses its use by any providers that are not Google Fiber, and absolutely prohibits its use by competitors using alternative technologies.

The petition highlights how the City of West Des Moines negotiated its agreement with Google Fiber shortly after Google’s primary Iowa lobbyist took his seat on the West Des Moines City Council, and details how Google Fiber retained the West Des Moines Mayor’s real estate company to secure office space in the city.

“The city and its leaders have intermingled their financial and personal interests with Google Fiber, and as a result the city has deliberately and unlawfully put a heavy thumb on the scale in favor of Google Fiber,” states the Mediacom filing.

Mediacom is seeking a range of remedial actions, including asking the FCC to advise the city to halt construction on the conduit network pending the agency’s review; to amend the city’s agreement with Google Fiber by removing the exclusive design, financial and permitting preferences and rights accorded to Google Fiber; as well as other actions aimed at creating a fair and balanced competitive environment in West Des Moines.

Mediacom filed a lawsuit against the City of West Des Moines and the West Des Moines City Council in December 2020, which is still ongoing. Learn more at www.mediacomcable.com.  

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