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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

December 10, 2014 at 5:50 PM

CenturyLink expanding gigabit service in West Seattle

The rollout of gigabit broadband continues in a few Seattle neighborhoods, although it’s unclear how many people have opted to subscribe to the ultrafast service.

CenturyLink this week announced that it had “connected nearly 22,000 households,” fulfilling its August pledge to reach “tens of thousands” of homes with the new service.

“Connected” suggests that 22,000 homes have signed up, but that may not be the case.

When asked for more details, a CenturyLink spokeswoman declined to say how many households have actually signed up for gigabit service in Seattle. She said gigabit service is now “available” to nearly 22,000 customers.

Details about uptake would be helpful for the city, which is considering whether it should develop a municipal broadband service that could potentially reach more residents and lead to price competition among the handful of broadband providers. It’s an open question whether the majority of residents would pay more for gigabit service.

Consultants preparing a report on the city’s options will be conducting phone surveys to gauge interest in gigabit service and results should be available in April, according to Michael Mattmiller, the city’s chief technology officer.

In Kansas City, where Google began the gigabit stampede by offering the service for $70 per month, uptake is mixed, according to surveys done for the Wall Street Journal and Sanford C. Bernstein and reported in October. They found that only 10 percent of residents in poorer neighborhoods subscribe to gigabit service, while 42 percent of residents in middle- and upper-income neighborhoods opt for gig service.

CenturyLink charges more than twice as much for gigabit service in Seattle — $152 per month for undbundled gigabit broadband, after promotions.

CenturyLink is continuing to expand the reach of its gigabit service in Ballard, where the rollout began last summer, and has started bringing the service to West Seattle.

Meanwhile, CondoInternet is now installing the backbone for fiber-optic, gigabit service that it’s bringing to the Eastlake neighborhood. It will charge a flat rate of $80 per month for gigabit service.

The first Eastlake customer should be connected on or before Dec. 19, according to Amy Thompson, director of marketing.

“Hang tight Eastlake, Fiber is coming soon,” the company said in a blog post Tuesday.

Other neighborhoods better hang tight, as well.

 

 

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