A local broadband company that has requested public assistance to build a super-fast, Google Fiber-like network in Lawrence is warning that it may drop its Lawrence plans in favor of working with another community in the region.
Officials with Lawrence-based Wicked Broadband said they are reaching out to cities as far west as Salina and as far east as Columbia, Mo., about partnering to build a broadband network that would equal the speeds of what Google Fiber is offering in Kansas City.
Wicked's latest announcement comes as the company is awaiting a decision by Lawrence city commissioners on a package of requested incentives, which includes a $500,000 grant that would help bring the 1 gigabit Internet service to downtown and East Lawrence.
Some Lawrence officials, though, have said the city should give other broadband companies — such as WOW!, AT&T and others — the chance to submit their own proposals before deciding whether to provide incentives to Wicked.
"Our preference is to do this project in Lawrence," said Kris Adair, a co-owner of Wicked and a member of the Lawrence school board. "It is where we live and where Joshua grew up. But if we can't do it here, we will look for another city just as committed to the project as we are."
Joshua Montgomery, the other co-owner of the company, said Wicked already has had preliminary conversations with Topeka about building a super-fast network there. He said Wicked will have developed a list of potential communities to work with by the end of next month. Lawrence's Public Incentives Review Committee is scheduled have a hearing on Wicked's incentives request on March 4. Montgomery said Wicked will wait until after that meeting to make a decision on how to proceed.