Google (GOOG) was offered a large number of incentives from the government of Kansas City to bring its fiber optic service to its neighborhoods. The Internet giant was allowed to skirt regulations and provided with special privileges such as discounted services, free fiber and access to government employees, buildings and infrastructure. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Time Warner Cable (TWC) and AT&T (T) have been in negotiations with Kansas City officials for a “parity agreement” granting the two companies the same benefits Google received.
“Our goal is to encourage innovation. Whether that is Google or an existing provider or someone else, we want to help this to happen over and over again,” Kansas City, KS, Mayor Joe Reardon said.
Time Warner has reportedly improved the speed and performance of its cable network in the region, and will continue to make certain improvements as part of the “parity deal.” The cable operator has already inked an agreement with Kansas City, MO that will grant the company discounts similar to Google, along with refunds for fees it paid to the city earlier this year.
“There are certain portions of the agreement between Google and Kansas City, Kan., that put them at a competitive advantage compared with not just us but also the other competitors in the field,” said Alex Dudley, a Time Warner Cable spokesman. “We’re happy to compete with Google, but we’d just like an even playing field.”
An AT&T spokesperson declined to comment on possible negotiations, although the company did say that “it’s time to modernize our industry’s rules and regulations…so all consumers benefit from fair and equal competition.”