The red outline shows the first phase of the fiber expansion by INS in West Des Moines. Phase two will take place next year, which will reach the Jordan Creek area.
The red outline shows the first phase of the fiber expansion by INS in West Des Moines. Phase two will take place next year, which will reach the Jordan Creek area.

It was, in some ways, coincidental, but the end result benefited both parties.

The city of West Des Moines in the past two years had identified that businesses were seeing holes in the city’s broadband coverage. The problem was that the city’s right-of-way policies and long application processes were making it hard for fiber-optic networks to expand there, said Clyde Evans, the city’s director of community and economic development.

“So I came back to our mayor and council and said ‘Here’s the situation.’ And it was unanimous agreement that ‘OK, we need to do things that make it easier for companies to install broadband within our right of way,’” Evans said.

Around the same time, Iowa Network Services (INS), a private group of Internet and cellphone service providers, was starting a five-year, $25-million effort to expand its fiber-optic network throughout the state.

The result was the launch of an INS expansion in West Des Moines, which has the potential to serve about 400 businesses between University Avenue and Westown Parkway, from 42nd Street to Jordan Creek Parkway. Phase two will take place next year.

Evans said he has heard from West Des Moines CEOs that “they see their future being very significantly tied to the ability to have enough broadband access. And if they can’t find the access, they are going to go somewhere else.”

The timing worked out particularly well for INS to expand its network, but the city also has been working with Mediacom, CenturyLink Inc. and Windstream Corp. about removing obstacles to those companies improving their fiber networks.

Likewise, INS is open to expanding the network for businesses throughout the metro area. As part of its five-year project, INS last year expanded networks in eastern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and the Quad Cities.

Kristy McDermott, INS network expansion manager, said the company would look to work with other cities in Central Iowa, though she declined to say which ones specifically. She did say that INS already has a strong fiber network in Des Moines, but would consider expanding the network for businesses that need it, in Des Moines and elsewhere – at no up-front cost to the business.

“We’re interested in trying to go everywhere and anywhere there is a need for fiber optics,” she said.