May 23, 4:10 PM click here to comment > 6
Bringing fiber broadband to Pioneer Square
We’ve heard from Pioneer Square businesses that internet speeds there are just not what a 21st century economy needs. Jeff Strain, who founded a game development company called Undead Labs, worries that he might have to move his company from Pioneer Square if the “barely adequate” internet service isn’t improved. He needs high-speed, high capacity internet access to upload his content.
The City is stepping in to help Jeff and other businesses along First Avenue. Today, Mayor Mike McGinn joined former mayor Charles Royer, Department of Information Technology Director Bill Schrier and Jeff Strain today to announce the next step in the City’s effort to bring high-speed fiber internet to Pioneer Square. The City is publishing a Request for Proposals for Internet service providers to offer fiber optic-based broadband service in Pioneer Square. This would allow businesses to get much more bandwidth than is available to them today, at speeds up to 100 times faster than is currently available.
Workers lay conduit under First Avenue that will carry fiber broadband.
McGinn announced in his State of the City address in February that Seattle City Light and the Department of Information Technology would lay conduit under four blocks of First Avenue in Pioneer Square as part of an existing project. The conduit enables fiber optic cable to be pulled through it, allowing nearby businesses to connect to high-speed fiber broadband internet service.
“This is something we have needed and is coming at the right time, just as new economy firms are filling up Pioneer Square office space,” said former mayor Charles Royer.
Mayor McGinn and Mayor Royer at today’s event.
Under the terms of the RFP, internet service providers will be able to pull fiber through the City’s conduit and serve neighboring buildings. Fiber optic cable has much higher bandwidth than most of the existing infrastructure, and can handle both extremely high download and upload speeds. Copper and coaxial cable physically limit the amount of data—and business—that can travel over them.
“What we are able to get in Pioneer Square right now is about half the speed of what you’d be able to get in your home,” said Jeff Strain, founder of Undead Labs, a game development company. “Fiber internet is essential in order for us to keep our company here.”
We expect 2 to 3 internet service providers to submit proposals. If none do, then the City will take steps to directly make service available. Fiber broadband service should be available to customers along First Avenue by the end of September.
Photos by: Jen Nance
Posted by: Robert Cruickshank