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Optical/IP Networks

Mediacom-West Des Moines deal clears the way for Google Fiber

Google Fiber's plan to deploy fiber to West Des Moines is moving forward again after the city approved a settlement with incumbent operator Mediacom Communications.

Details of the settlement have not been disclosed, but the city told the BusinessRecord that Google Fiber's project there will now move forward as the deal, approved by a vote of 4-0 on Tuesday (January 18), heads to a judge for approval.

The paper added that the settlement between Mediacom and the city also resolves a Mediacom-led lawsuit that targeted the city's agreement with Google Fiber.

"The City of West Des Moines and Mediacom are pleased we were able to address each other's concerns and come to a resolution that serves the needs of residents and businesses. The good news is that our citywide conduit project continues to move ahead," the city told the BusinessRecord.

Update: West Des Moines will reportedly pay about $600,000 to dismiss the suit and, as part of the settlement, does not admit to any wrongdoing.

MCC Iowa LLC, a subsidiary of Mediacom, filed the suit against the city in December 2020, alleging that the council approved a sweetheart conduit network agreement with Google Fiber that violates state law. The incumbent operator also alleged that the council improperly used taxpayer-backed financing bonds to build a $50 million citywide conduit network for the exclusive use of Google Fiber.

Mediacom had also argued that the design and size of the conduit network tagged for the city was tailored to Google Fiber and would, therefore, prevent others from accessing it. Mediacom claimed that the microduct designs were too small to fit the fiber optic cables that Mediacom and other broadband service providers use.

Settlement talks between Mediacom and the city got underway in September 2021.

New deal fast-tracks Mediacom's '10G' upgrade

Though details of the agreement are still hidden, a Mediacom official tells Light Reading that the company is pleased with the deal as it will enable Mediacom to fast track its "10G" upgrade in West Des Moines. Mediacom, the official added, will now have access to conduit where it's needed, along with the ability to overlash aerial network in other areas.

The result, Mediacom said, will pave the way for multi-gigabit upload and download speeds on its coming 10G platform. 10G, a cable industry initiative, is gunning for symmetrical 10-Gig speeds, along with security enhancements and low-latency capabilities, over hybrid fiber/coax (HFC), fiber-to-the-premises and wireless networks.

In the fall of 2020, Mediacom hosted a "10G Smart Home" project in Ames, Iowa. Mediacom, CableLabs and NCTA – The Internet & Television Association used the home to demonstrate bandwidth-intensive apps, including 8K video and a light field display, via an enhanced DOCSIS 3.1 network that was upgraded to 1.2GHz and utilized a "high-split" that greatly expanded the amount of spectrum dedicated to the upstream.

Google Fiber, which is offering speeds up to 2 Gbit/s down and 1 Gbit/s upstream in its FTTP markets, said it is close to completing the technical requirements to connect customers to the first section of the West Des Moines network. Google Fiber expects to open signups for service in sections of the northeast corner of the city in the "next few months," Mark Strama, GM of expansion markets at Google Fiber, noted in this blog post.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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