State Politics

Former Idaho broadband contractors sue state

Education Networks of America and CenturyLink have each sued the state of Idaho in federal court over the failed Idaho Education Network project to provide internet service to Idaho high schools and state agencies.

ENA and CenturyLink are each seeking at least $18.5 million in damages and other costs, according to the lawsuits filed Friday.

The lawsuits are the latest jab in a legal battle that began in 2009 when the state Department of Administration awarded the $60 million broadband contract to Education Networks of America, its partner Syringa Networks and Qwest, now CenturyLink. A month later, the state removed Syringa and gave the technical work to Qwest.

Syringa sued the state and a multiyear legal battle ensued, costing taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees. In November 2014, a district court judge ordered the contract voided. The Idaho Supreme Court upheld that order last March.

ENA and CenturyLink also are asking the court to stop the state from trying to recover money it paid to them for services provided before the contract was voided.

The Legislature repealed the Idaho Education Network and eliminated all funding effective July 1.

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell

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