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City of Seattle

February 11, 4:31 PM click here to comment > 42

Seattle applies for Google Fiber for Communities

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 RFI.

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.

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Posted by: Aaron Pickus, Spokesperson


Comment from Tom Sparks
Time February 11, 2010 at 4:37 pm

This is exciting news, thanks for looking out for our interests. As the 21st century progresses, community connectivity will become more and more important. Too important I might add to leave in the hands of huge corporate interests like CommCast and QWEST. They only care about the profit they can skim off our community.

Comment from Gordon Medley
Time February 11, 2010 at 4:41 pm

This could be a double edged sword. Google enters the competition field of high-speed Internet providers – Higher speed and lower cost for consumers. Flip side: what are the possible privacy concerns wrapped up with this? Google Chrome, Google Internet, Google Email, Google Docs, Google Voice, Google Phone, Google OS, Google Adsense, Google Buzz, Google Analytics, Google Wave, Google Sketchup, Google Search Engine, Google, Google, Google….

Comment from Ian
Time February 11, 2010 at 5:51 pm

@Tom Sparks: You are worried about corporate interests yet ignore the fact that Google is a huge corporation. Granted this is exciting, but it may also prove to be their way of getting towards controlling the interwebs.

Comment from Daevid Vincent
Time February 11, 2010 at 6:32 pm

I for one welcome our new Google overlords…

Comment from Devin
Time February 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I trust in our city officials to look out for our privacy concerns.

And I am SUPER excited to hear we’re in the running for Google’s super-speed Internet. In the US alone (let alone in the neighborhoods denied access to comparably “quality Internet”) we’re paying more for slower speeds. Having access to greater speeds ought to inspire our creative minds and I’m sure amazing new things will come of it.

Comment from Jamie
Time February 11, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Go new mayor! If you make this happen I will be incredibly happy. It is *rediculous* that I live in Seattle, one of the high-tech hubs of the world, in the densest part of Seattle (Cap Hill), and my two options for broadband are Comcast (unreliable) and Qwest (2 mbps).

@Gordon Medley: You have got to be kidding. Given our present abysmal broadband options your theoretical privacy concerns aren’t a reasonable objection.

Comment from Jeff H Silverman
Time February 12, 2010 at 9:37 am

I can answer the privacy concerns that Gordon refers to. There is no such thing as privacy on the wire. In order to provide privacy, you must use higher level protocols such as IPsec, HTTPS, SFTP, SSH, and similar. The body of E-mail messages can be encrypted with GPG or similar. Google says that their network will be open, so you can still work with any service you choose.

Comment from Jonathan
Time February 12, 2010 at 11:06 am

Nice one, Mayor!

Comment from Concerned Citizen
Time February 12, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Reflecting Gordon Medley Wathmen concerns – Google collects an enormous amount of data about users today. Hard to see how putting the physical connection from the home in their hands is a good idea.

Comment from Willis Tuttle
Time February 12, 2010 at 1:26 pm

But what other cities and towns are we competing against in our quest for fiber?

Comment from Really, Gordon?
Time February 12, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Privacy is also an issue with comcast and quest. Just because we are using internet provided by google doesn’t mean we will have to use all of its other products. The funny thing is that the list you put together can either be seen as several services google provides or the services they are best at providing. In the end google isn’t really much different than any other company except that they seem to realize by giving people free services which work better than costly alternatives endears them to the public and allows them make money in a myriad of other ways.

Comment from Matt Jones
Time February 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I am in full support of getting Google internet in Seattle. Yes, Google is a corporation looking to make money, we cannot fool ourselves, they are. But, they are also masters at integration and developing tools that help us streamline all we do online, which is substantial. In response to Gordon, Google has an incredible track history of showing respect for privacy, I don’t think we need to start worrying now. And if you do start to worry, you can just stop using their products.

Comment from Patrick
Time February 12, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I wouldn’t think that the privacy concerns from a Google based ISP would be any greater than any other ISP, or any other Google service. If you consider a majority of users could easily be tracked online based on their Google searches, this sort of concern is something that, while valid, has existed since the beginning of a hub-based internet (as opposed to old link rings).
The same concerns where brought up when it was announced that GMail reads users emails for advertising opportunities. While there is (perhaps even more blatant) security concerns with that, the net result has been what has been regularly regarded as the best Mail Client, let alone best Web based Email, that has spurred progress beyond 25 megabyte inbox days. Yahoo is still the most popular web based email, but no one looks to it for new and innovating features. Those come from Mountain View.
So as with any new product brought forth by Google, Security Concerns – Yes. Innovation – Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

Comment from TJR
Time February 12, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Go Google. give us the option to choose.

Comment from narunetto
Time February 12, 2010 at 8:44 pm

This is a great opportunity for Seattle but unfortunately I live in Auburn so we probably won’t be getting it out here. Bummer.

Comment from madjag
Time February 12, 2010 at 10:20 pm

This is terrific news. Delighted to see a progressive mayor, who’s looking to embrace technology and provide superior infrastructure for the Seattle community.

Comment from Lazy ISPs
Time February 13, 2010 at 3:09 am

Google’s fiber network is probably a gimmick, nothing will come of it, it’s simply too ambitious.

The mayor would be better off convincing Verizon to continue upgrading their network and Qwest to start upgrading their network.

It’s ridiculous that people in Seattle have to put up with slow DSL connections and Cable connections that don’t work on a good day. Somebody needs to make these ISPs invest money into their networks…

Comment from Nicolas Campbell
Time February 13, 2010 at 3:09 am

Congratulations for jumping on the ball so quickly, Mayor! Those with privacy concerns don’t understand how google collects, stores, and utilizes data they collect. Sure, seeing semi relevant adsense ads in your gmail can be a little scary if you don’t understand the underlying mechanics, but in my opinion, Google is one of the companies that is already the most closely scrutinized because of those fears.
So let’s keep scrutinizing them, but let’s embrace the huge advances this promises. Seattle is already at the forefront of technology, let’s stay there for years to come by pushing for this as much as we can!

Comment from Byron
Time February 13, 2010 at 9:27 am

Just another reason to love our wonderful city of Seattle! This would be a win for everybody!

Comment from GGS
Time February 13, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I’ve been told that this will be a great improvement. I hope so. Ihave Comcast right now, and it’s not very satisfactory. I had better service when I was tying up the phone line to go online.

Comment from JT
Time February 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Privacy concerns? Are people so quick to forget how quickly ISPs turned info over to the govt regarding the whole domestic wiretapping thing? Does anyone trust comcast at all?

I trust google far more than any of the current options, and the fact that I give comcast 100 bucks a month for my connection burns me up, every damned day. It would be great if I could channel my money into a company that is actually progressing, rather than sitting idly by and blaming outages on customers rather than their outdated network.

Seriously, you “privacy” people are acting like trolls, intentionally ignoring instances where our current choices have, and will again, fuck us over. You want to keep giving them money?

Comment from et
Time February 15, 2010 at 10:48 am

Cheers for carrying out a campaign promise. I just put in my bit at google’s Just a data point for them. Hope others will do same.

Comment from RJ45
Time February 15, 2010 at 1:36 pm

I’m all for it. Google has proven to work with a good idea and mold it into a great product! We know all the wasted capital our city wastes (no need to list as that is another topic), Google’s contribution will only help focus a feasible method to deploy this. Plus with everything Google, You OPT in if you want to use it. They do not force you to have things. Ie, like the new Buzz services. You can turn it off if you don’t want to utilize it.

@Daevid Vincent – I’m with you!

@Concerned Citizen and those that are privacy frightened- It’s not just Google. Anything you do on net is collecting data on you and what you are doing. If you’re scared of Google, you might as well unplug. Google as well as the other vendors out there are not the problem, most users are the ones that lead themselves into privacy issues. Know where you are going and what you are clicking on.

I sure as heck would not reply to an email from someone I didn’t know ( IE African Prince ) with all my pertinent banking details for a promised $1 million return.

Comment from Asaif
Time February 18, 2010 at 2:11 am

I am super happy; and proud that Mayor McGinn and his team are on top of this. We need it in the South Lake Union Area.
Keep up the good work!!

Comment from Beau
Time February 22, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I don’t think privacy concerns over a Google-provided line are unfounded: unlike Comcast or Qwest, Google’s core competency and business model rely on data collection and analysis. They are much better staged to collect, process and archive bits that hit the wire then Comcast or Qwest ever will be. I’m not saying this is a show-stopper, the thought of FTTH makes me giddy. However, our elected officials surely need to perform due diligence to ensure that public privacy is at the forefront of any discussions.

Comment from Jon Lesser
Time February 23, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Seattle clearly has an enlightened mayor. Baltimore (aka “Charm City”, aka “The Greatest City in America”) is working hard to get their city government to act with some online organizing at

Comment from Gordon Medley
Time March 1, 2010 at 10:52 am

Don’t get me wrong folks, I like Google just as much as anyone else. I also like the idea of Google bringing in more competition in broadband options, it’s always good for the consumer. My comments were nothing more than a reminder to think about what you might be putting online or sharing unwittingly on the internet.

Comment from Jason
Time March 4, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Regardless if Seattle gets Google or not, a project like this must go forward. I live less than a mile from the “downtown core” and the best I can get is Qwest DSL at 5M? On a good day I can get a little over 3M in reality.

Really? This is the best on offer?

It’s obvious the ISPs and incumbent utility providers don’t feel the incentive they need, the pressure they need, to keep themselves up to date.

This city needs a game-changer.

Comment from Jason Hill
Time March 24, 2010 at 9:22 am

Good Luck Seattle.
If you want some tools to see how you are ranking in the news compared to other cities you can use the tools at ASheville’s website to determine how many stories you have about Google Fiber to the Home.

Comment from Lamont
Time March 31, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Hopefully Google will be a little more enlightened than either Qwest or Verizon and let me have unfiltered inbound access (so I can run my own services at home) without bumping me up to a high-tier business-class cost.

IPv6 would be incredibly forwards-looking (and about time we got IPv6 to the home) as well.

Comment from Daniel
Time May 5, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I agree there could be privacy issues, but then on the other hand more competition is good lowers the cost to consumers like a post said comcast and quest are only looking after there own profits..

Comment from Gordon Medley
Time May 29, 2010 at 6:43 am

@Jamie – Really? Because your not satisfied with high speed options privacy is not a concern? hmmm… I’m not the only one:

Comment from Blog
Time June 19, 2010 at 9:54 pm

What google overloads

Comment from Dev the Web Marketer Kid
Time July 29, 2010 at 5:53 am

Very excited to hear Google’s super-speed Internet. Nice to Have access to greater speeds and quality Internet is a must!

All the best,

Comment from Dave
Time August 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm

This is a wonderful opportunity for the communities you represent.
I am someone who will be traveling to your area in the hopes of relocating for personal and business reasons I applaud the foreword thinking and yes your privacy is your responsability.
(Just like your retirement eh?)

Best wishes to you all and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Comment from Guy Siverson
Time August 20, 2010 at 6:26 am

Interesting times technology is bringing on us. I wonder what the world will look like in 10 or 20 years? No doubt this is a needed improvement by the masses and certainly for me. Do you know if their will be corresponding charges similar to another monthly utility bill or what the plan is to recoup expenses and earn profit with this improvement?

Comment from Robert Zappone
Time September 24, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Beautiful blog, would really like to see a bit more media though! One of my favorite subjects… Then again my site hasn’t very much either – Great post anyway, added your XML feed! Cheers

Comment from Steve Sails
Time October 26, 2010 at 7:12 am

Thanks for the article, this is going to help me alot!

Comment from Adsense
Time February 23, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Implementation plans are very high and hope to get success building good network. Lovable site.

Comment from Chuck
Time March 16, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I live 2 miles from downtown Seattle. You would think that in one of the most tech savy cities in the world I would be able to get Fibre to the home. My coice is Qwest DSL of Comcast. Both are unreliebale and slow. If the City didn’t make so expensive to implement I bet we would have service by now.

Comment from Broadband Bob
Time August 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Go Mayor! This is the greatest tech city in the WORLD!!!