The approximately 500 miles of unused fiber optic cabling (dark fiber) that Seattle has built and maintained over the last 15 years, in conjunction with government entities ranging from the UW to Washington State Ferries. Due to complaints from residents and businesses, the City of Seattle last year announced they were seeking to develop a public-private partnership with interested private companies to use that network to bring more of Seattle’s internet speeds to the gigabit range. By comparison, Comcast’s general top speed is 50mbps; this would be 1000mbps.
Mayor McGinn has promoted the effort, which was approved by the Seattle City Council 8-0 last year, as a way to compete in the world economy, by improving the digital infrastructure; he has cited the example of Bill Gates and Paul Allen sneaking into UW to use computers that no one else had as a seed for Microsoft in explaining the connection between better digital infrastructure and local innovation.
The winner of the bid was Gigabit Squared, a Washington D.C. based company; some ISPs have expressed concerns over the fact that the company has no presence in Seattle other than the result of this bid. Yesterday, however, Gigabit Squared announced how they intended to fulfill the bid’s promise. They have announced a partnership with Zayo, a global provider of bandwidth infrastructure services. The dark fiber that Zayo has in Seattle, a mix of their own construction and purchased assets, will allow Gigabit Squared to build better districution routes through the city.
Demonstration neighbourhoods are expected to be online as soon as early next year, with residential rates announced that include, in the top tier of service, 1000Mbps upload and download for $80/month. Local companies providing similar speeds and services are evaluating current pricing, as well.