I’m not sure where to put the blame for the Gigabit Squared deal falling apart. Murray says it was trouble when he came into office, but I suspect he’ll say that about a lot of things McGinn started did that he doesn’t want to do.
Mayor Ed Murray has declared the city’s deal with startup broadband company Gigabit Squared dead. In fact, the city’s deal with the company may have been doomed before Murray was even elected.
“We understand the Gigabit problems had developed before the election,” Murray told PSBJ reporter Marc Stiles in an interview last week.
Whatever the reason, it’s too bad. I’m a few blocks outside of the coverage area, so it doesn’t hit me personally, at least in the beginning. But regardless, if they can’t provide the service, the need for that high speed relatively cheap Internet is still there. Tech companies and other businesses will have a choice of where to locate, and that will certainly be in the calculus. People will decide where to live, and that will be part of the decision. For people who want to live in the city, it’s a quality of life issue.
Fortunately, Seattle is blessed with a utility in Seattle City Light that is already good at delivering a vital service city wide relatively inexpensively. So it should be easier for us to do this than most places. As such, I was glad to see Mayor Murray say this:
“It’s a utility, in my mind,” Murray said. “The city has done a very good job of providing affordable electric rates because we have a public utility. So I think there are a variety of models, including a hybrid model that might get that affordability.”
When something can and should be done but the private sector can’t or won’t do it, it’s time to consider how else to provide that service. It seems like something Seattle can do as a city.