In late 2012, CHS got kinda excited about the prospects for a “public-private partnership” bringing a broadband service alternative to the City of Seattle. This week, it was revealed that the whimpers of recent months were true — the partnership was dead before it even got started. While there are some private alternatives making a go of bringing a fat pipe to Capitol Hill’s densely populated apartment blocks, it will now be up to a new mayor to bring Seattle up to speed with other cities putting their fiber capacity and related technology to work to provide affordable, fast Internet service.
Below is what Mayor Ed Murray has to say about the status of “a fiber-to-home network” in Seattle. CHS has plenty of tech-muscled geeks in the audience. Any ideas to help the mayor complete the fat pipe’s last mile on Capitol Hill?
An update on the status of a fiber-to-home network in Seattle
As some of you may have recently read, Mayor Murray sat down with the Puget Sound Business Journal and one of the topics discussed was the status of the City’s partnership with technology company Gigabit Squared. The deal, overseen by former Mayor Mike McGinn, would have allowed the company to lease parts of the city’s fiber optic network in order to bring high-speed internet to residents of Seattle. In November 2013 – prior to Mayor Murray taking office on January 1, 2014 – Gigabit Squared let the McGinn administration know they were having difficulties securing funding to bring the project to fruition. Due to that lack of private investment funding, Gigabit Squared, which has not yet delivered a broadband system in any city during their five years in business, could not continue their work. In addition, Gigabit Squared still owes the City of Seattle $52,250 for services provided to them by the City, including engineering fiber routes, conducting preliminary assessments for their wireless infrastructure, and permit planning. The City is now at a crossroads and a new fiber strategy needs to be, and will be, explored. In 2004, a citizen’s task force recommended the city pursue fiber instead of citywide Wi-Fi and, since that time, two administrations have explored ways to build fiber broadband. While this initiative has encountered a speed bump along the way, please be assured that access to a fiber-to-the-home network in Seattle is not “dead” as has been reported over the last few days. The Mayor is committed to improving the infrastructure of this city and that includes improving the connectivity of its residents. The Mayor is also deeply committed to the affordability of this city and will ask that any other options pursued do not further contribute to the economic divide in Seattle. Please stay tuned for more information on this issue in the coming weeks.