Seattle moves forward on broadband

Seattle is continuing its push to bring high-speed broadband to all parts of the city. Earlier this week Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and University of Washington President Michael Young announced a partnership to solicit private proposals to leverage the fiber surrounding the UW campus. The project is part of a larger national project called Gig U, which hopes to leverage university broadband networks to foster economic development in the communities around college campuses.

The Gig U. project follows an earlier public-private effort which will bring high-speed broadband to the growing Pioneer Square neighborhood in Seattle. In 2009, the Mayor made a promise to provide broadband access to all of Seattle and the concentration of high-tech jobs in the Pioneer Square neighborhood made this the logical starting place.

Seattle has almost 500 miles of so-called “dark cable,” fiber optic lines already embedded throughout the city but not in use. The city plans to offer private companies leases for this unused fiber to build broadband networks.

The partnership will start by soliciting proposals, for Dec. 2. The proposals will focus on expanding networks in the university district in line with Gig U requirements. Many of the neighborhoods surrounding the university are only wired with copper wire, the city hopes that by making the dark fiber available through these initiatives, the copper wire will be upgraded to extend the broadband network to more parts of the city.

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