Joco Opinion

Editorial: AT&T rushes in as Google Fiber leaves Leawood

After the relationship between Leawood and Google Fiber fizzled over the summer, AT&T has stepped in with plans to sell high-speed Internet service in the affluent suburb.

In a way, this is how the free market is supposed to work: Google Fiber took a pass on serving residential customers in Leawood, providing an opening to one of its competitors.

The reality of the situation is a little more complicated, as The Star’s Scott Canon reported this week.

More than three months ago, according to a Google letter obtained by The Star, the company indicated that the city was being unreasonable in saying where the new network could be constructed. The use of existing utility poles appeared to be a nonstarter with city officials, forcing Google to put its lines underground, which would have been more costly.

Google’s longtime secrecy about how it conducts its operations in the Kansas City area appear to have kept potential customers in Leawood in the dark far longer than should have been necessary. They thought up until this week that Google Fiber was still coming to the city, yet the company’s letter about the pullout was dated July 24.

Leawood officials supposedly couldn’t say anything about the development because their deal with Google prohibited such discussions.

The City Council on Monday night approved an AT&T proposal to work toward providing super-fast Internet connections to Leawood residents.

Left unanswered are exactly how fast that will occur and how much it could cost homeowners. For now, AT&T appears to have won this battle, gaining potential access to more customers in Johnson County.