Syringa Networks sues Idaho over bid to build education network

The telecommunications company Syringa Networks has sued Idaho, saying it illegally awarded a multimillion-dollar broadband contract to Qwest Communications Co. to build a statewide education network, even though Qwest didn’t have the lowest bid, reports the Associated Press. In the lawsuit filed Dec. 15 in 4th District Court, Syringa’s attorneys claim an impartial evaluation team selected by the Idaho Department of Administration found the company was the most technically proficient bidder and also the least expensive, but that the department awarded the contract to Qwest instead. The contract is part of an ambitious project to link public schools, universities, and businesses over a high-speed broadband network dubbed the Idaho Education Network. The state is getting $3 million in stimulus funds to build the network, with plans to invest more over the coming years. Syringa says department director Mike Gwartney’s decision to go with Qwest deprived Syringa of as much as $60 million in work over the next two decades. Bob Gravely, a spokesman for Qwest, called the suit "completely without merit," adding: "We will defend ourselves vigorously."

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