As quickly as Google Fiber suddenly informed residents of Leawood, Kan., that it will no longer extend its gigabit network to their community, AT&T has made it clear that the city is a target for its own GigaPower service.
Google Fiber Inc. told gigabit-interested Leawood residents by email last Thursday that "we've found that it would require a much more difficult construction effort and schedule than planned. So unfortunately we won't be bringing Google Fiber to Leawood," according to an article in the Kansas City Star. Speculation in local media is that Leawood regulations requiring fiber facilities to be buried rather than aerial proved too costly for Google. A Google Fiber spokesperson did not reply to Light Reading's request for comment.
Meanwhile, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which already had announced the greater Kansas City market as a GigaPower target, submitted a memorandum of understanding to the City of Leawood to start discussions about extending its gigabit network and services to that market. Leawood City Administrator Scott Lambers tells Light Reading that the MoU was unanimously approved by city council last night, but that it only sets out general parameters and is not specific about AT&T's buildout plans. AT&T spokespeople did not reply to Light Reading's request for comment. (See AT&T Grows Gigabit Goals.)
Google Fiber's Leawood action is just the latest development in what increasingly looks like an elaborate tactic by Google to raise awareness among communities' residents about gigabit services and spur broadband competitors to deploy gigabit networks, but not to actually deploy the networks in all the markets where it has promised it would. (See Frontier's Gig Beats Google to Oregon and Are Gigabit Cities Lands of Confusion?)
The City of Leawood also issued a statement on its website that raises the question of whether Google Fiber violated a confidentiality clause by communicating with residents and local media about its Leawood bailout: "The City of Leawood cannot comment on any aspect as to why Google decided to unilaterally cancel the agreement due to the confidentiality clause that remains in effect for BOTH parties. I am having a legal review performed to determine if the communication by Google violates that clause, and if so, would render it null and void and thus allow the City to issue a press release regarding the facts of the situation which has been prepared and is ready to be released, but remains sealed."
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading