Mayor Mike McGinn just announced that Seattle will indeed ask Google to pursue one of its fiber-optic broadband experiments in the city.
From the release:
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.
Seattle has been hashing over ways to entice companies to extend fiber broadband service to homes in the city for years and McGinn pledged to pursue citywide broadband.
Google on Wednesday announced that it wanted to partner with municipalities to develop and experiment with an ultrafast fiber network. Its experiment would reach a total of 5,000 to 500,000 people across the country.
If Seattle were to beat out cities across the country vying to partner with Google, the experiment would only provide service to fraction of the city. It’s also unclear how long Google would continue the experiment and what it would cost, however the service would not be free to users.
Bill Schrier, the city’s chief technology officer, called it a “longshot” but said it’s worth trying.
“It seems logical to respond to that anyway because Seattle is an innovative place, we’ve got a lot of asets we could bring to a partnership with Google,” he said.
Cities have until March 26 to submit a “request for information” to Google, which will respond later this year.
Schrier said pursuing the Google experiment won’t delay Seattle’s effort to build a city-wide fiber network that provides everyone with fast service because the city’s in the process of developing a plan for that project.
“It won’t delay us because we’re building a business plan anyway,” he said.
A statement issued by McGinn’s office this afternoon reads like a preview of Seattle’s application. After a few paragraphs saying Seattle’s interested in the Google project, the statement lists city assets including its municipal fiber network and its “high tech industry and population”:
SEATTLE – Today Mayor Mike McGinn announced that the city of Seattle will respond to Google’s Request for Information (RFI) to build ultra-high speed broadband networks in communities across America.
Google’s vision of a fiber-to-the-home network with open access is very similar to McGinn’s plan to connect every home and business in Seattle with a fiber broadband network. McGinn has already created an internal city government task force of utility and technology leaders to create a plan for realizing this plan. That task force will also prepare a response to Google’s Request for Information.
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.
City government itself has many assets which could be used to partner with Google in this network, thereby reducing Google’s costs and allowing the new network to reach more people. The city owns or co-owns 100,000 poles on which to construct the network. City-owned electric and water utilities could use the network for energy management, smart grid and other innovative uses. Seattle has also extensively deployed technology in public safety – computers in every police and fire vehicle, video cameras in every patrol vehicle and laptops for every police officer. This current deployment of technology could spur innovative public safety uses of a fiber network in the future.
Seattle has led a consortium of public agencies to build an extensive fiber network for use by those agencies – last year saw the completion of a project to connect every school (elementary, middle school, high school) to fiber, and most sites for the University of Washington, Seattle Community Colleges, City of Seattle, and other public agencies. The fiber consortium is a partnership of the city of Seattle, Seattle School District, University of Washington, State of Washington, Seattle Community College District, Port of Seattle, cities of Shoreline and Edmonds, several federal agencies and Pierce, Snohomish and King counties. This consortium is a tremendous asset of sites and public agencies, already connected, who could immediately “plug in” to a new fiber-to-the-premise network.