The other day I offered a free beer to the first Seattle elected official to enthusiastically come out in support of pitching a proposal to participate in Google’s experimental fiber network. Well, Mayor Mike McGinn was the first to answer the call.
Seattle will actively seek to partner with Google in creation of a fiber network here. The city itself has many assets to bring to the partnership, including an extensive existing fiber network of over 500 miles connecting every school, college and major government building in the city. In Seattle, 88% of residents have home computers, 84% have Internet access and 74% already have Internet access faster than dial-up. Seattle is a high tech city, with many technology firms both large and small, and a culture of entrepreneurism and innovation.
Fiber-to-the-premise networks will serve as an engine for business and economic development. Seattle would be an excellent place to construct such a network because we already have a high tech industry and population.
I don’t know how much of a chance we’ll have at winning a spot in the project, but at the very least it will help focus the city’s collective mind on what we need to do to provide our residents and businesses with first-rate, high-speed broadband infrastructure… something many of our neighborhoods sadly lack.
Living only a couple blocks from a major Qwest switch, I reliably enjoy better than 5Mbps downstream via DSL, but that makes me one of the fortunate ones, and while new WiMax service from Clear is (spottily) filling the gap in some neighborhoods, there are many Seattle households that are lucky to sustain 1.5Mbps, regardless of the provider.
But 1Gbps… hell, I’d happily settle for the 20Mbps my sister in suburban Philadelphia is getting from Verizon’s FIOS service.
If Seattle wants to remain a high-tech leader, we need to build the ultra-high-speed broadband infrastructure necessary to nurture and sustain our lead. And if Mayor McGinn wants to drop by Drinking Liberally sometime to discuss his broadband plans, the beer’s on me.