Feb 8, 2021 - News

Scoop: Des Moines eyes Google Fiber partnership

Illustration of an internet cable tracing the shape of the Des Moines skyline.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Des Moines city leaders are in talks with several companies, including Google Fiber, to bring residents and businesses better internet, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Internet accessibility has been a priority for years and has become more urgent amid a pandemic that requires large swaths of the population to complete their work and schooling from home.

What's happening: Google Fiber approached Des Moines about a partnership, similar to its plan to make West Des Moines into Iowa's first "Google Fiber City," Des Moines City Manager Scott Sanders told Axios.

  • Google Fiber — the company's fiber-optic broadband internet service — is only in 11 U.S. cities so far. (Seven others have Fiber Webpass.)
  • Teaming up would mean providing residents and businesses with super-fast, reliable internet service at a competitive cost — currently advertised at $70 a month for West Des Moines residents.

The state of play: Des Moines is still in the "early discovery phase" but is interested in a provider that makes a private investment in infrastructure so there would be no need to cough up public dollars, Sanders said.

  • Des Moines is also in contact with MetroNet, which recently started construction of a fiber optic network for Clive.
  • The city would like to reach an agreement by this spring.

Of note: Des Moines is using key three criteria in assessing providers:

  • Citywide access.
  • Affordability.
  • Education to help residents learn how to use and understand the technology.

What to watch: Des Moines is closely eyeing the West Des Moines project to avoid the legal challenges its suburban peer is encountering.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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