Today Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced that the City of Seattle has reached an agreement with broadband developer Gigabit Squared to develop and operate an ultra high-speed fiber-to-the-home/fiber-to-the-business broadband network. The plan will begin with a demonstration fiber project in twelve Seattle neighborhoods and includes wireless methods to deploy services more quickly to other areas in the city. This project follows another similar one announced for mid-South Chicago neighborhoods earlier this year. Gigabit Squared is part of the Gig.U and Air.U group of organizations working to expand university and municipal broadband networks in an effort to support economic development nationwide.
The initiative will use Seattle’s excess fiber capacity, along with the network of the University of Washington, Gigabit Squared technology to stimulate business opportunities, spur advancements in health care, education, and public safety. Individuals and businesses in the Seattle area will also be able to use the network.
The city, the university and Gigabit Squared have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and a Letter of Intent that allows Gigabit Squared to begin raising the capital needed to conduct engineering work and to build out the demonstration fiber network. The project is the second city project announced by Gigabit Squared as part of its multi-million dollar Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program. Gigabit Squared will collaborate with the City of Seattle and the University of Washington to initiate a process for sharing information and soliciting input on the project from members of the affected communities.
As CivSource reported last week, Washington is already a leading other states in its adoption of broadband technology and expansion of its statewide network, according to the latest TechNet Broadband Performance Index. Other states such as Ohio have already laid the ground work for similar ultra high-speed broadband networks in an effort to modernize their economy and provide much needed technological infrastructure. Taken together, these projects may be hopeful indicators of a rush to access on a national scale.
“The UW, the city of Seattle and Gigabit Squared are working together to make Seattle the most wired and connected city in the nation and to continue its role as a major leader in the innovation economy of the 21st century,” said University of Washington President Michael Young. “This new level of high-speed connectivity will provide essential infrastructure to help us address some of our biggest problems in the areas of climate, the environment, education, energy, and transportation. It’s definitely a game-changer, and we are delighted to be one of the driving forces in making this a reality.”