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City of Seattle

October 1, 3:04 PM click here to comment > 3

Increasing access to existing fiber optic cable network

Mayor McGinn released a request for information (RFI) today to identify private parties who may be interested in using the excess capacity of the city of Seattle’s fiber optic cable network for providing high speed internet services and increasing competition among service providers.

“We are moving ahead on expanding our next-generation infrastructure, helping Seattle compete in the global economy,” said McGinn. “I look forward to seeing the applications from private providers seeking to improve our city’s internet service for our residents and businesses.”

“Seattle ranks fourth in average broadband download speeds among the largest US cities and the goal, through this public/private partnership, is to make sure Seattle continues working at providing the fastest Internet speeds and to help create new service areas in underserved neighborhoods,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “The City’s priority is to ensure all students have access to high-speed Internet and for local businesses to receive the fastest speeds.”

Since 1995, Seattle and approximately 20 governments have been partners in a fiber partnership that has built out some 500 miles of fiber throughout the city. That network has excess capacity in some locations. Numerous residents and businesses have told the city that they do not have adequate access to high speed internet service. As a result, the mayor submitted legislation, adopted by Council in August 2012, authorizing the city to enter into agreements for using its excess fiber.

“The UW applauds the decision by the City Council, and the efforts of the Mayor’s staff in implementing this innovative program allowing access to unused fiber assets to those who would advance the state of high-capacity networking in Seattle,” said University of Washington President Michael Young. “This forward-thinking initiative is consistent with UW’s efforts with like-minded universities and communities comprising the national Gig.U program.  We are pleased the city has joined with us in these efforts by allowing public/private investment in our communities to drive innovation and discovery.”

“The city of Seattle’s program to open up its fiber network will support increased choice and availability of high speed internet service in Seattle,” said Joe Bangah, COO of CondoInternet. “As a Seattle based high speed ISP that is currently offering among the nation’s fastest residential internet speeds to downtown Seattle, CondoInternet looks forward to participating in the city’s fiber program, which will provide opportunities to expand our service to other areas of Seattle.”

There is an order of priority of intended use that the city will consider when reviewing responses to the RFI. The first priority is for providing fiber to the home to at least 100,000 households/businesses in Seattle with an open architecture. Other priorities include providing low cost internet service to low income housing facilities, improving public safety, lowering the cost of city utilities, and others priorities found in the RFI online at

The city estimates that the term of most agreements will be five years, but they may consider terms up to ten years. For details and requirements of responding to the RFI, please see Interested parties must submit a letter of interest and desired fiber route information by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 30, 2012. Respondents will hear back from the city by Monday, December 10, 2012, on any next steps.

Posted by: April Thomas


Comment from Hans Gerwitz
Time October 11, 2012 at 10:44 am

I’m disappointed to see no public sensing as part of this RFI. It seems we have a rare opportunity to supplement the endpoint use of this fiber network with sensors for air quality, noise, etc. at low cost.

Comment from Stephen Lundgren
Time October 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm

How could this network be used to support the proposed gunshot locator system, which I would hope would not cost public money to duplicate this public network? and am I clear that any private operator using this public network will probably charge fees for service?

Comment from Marc Policani
Time February 23, 2013 at 11:31 am

I’d like to see an inexpensive, fast and POLICY competitive alternative to Comcast residential and business class services. I’d specifically like to see an end to download data caps, throttling, and anti-competitive data shaping practices to dissuade users from adopting less expensive (but competing) IP based services such as VoIP, Ooma, Netflix, Vudu, Amazon, Hulu, etc…