November 14, 4:23 PM click here to comment > 19
Working with UW to bring high-speed fiber to neighborhoods and businesses
Mayor Mike McGinn and University of Washington President Michael Young today announced a partnership to solicit private proposals to provide high-speed fiber service to communities surrounding the UW campus. For the first time, Seattle will offer to lease access to its unused “dark fiber” to allow private companies to build broadband networks with speeds up to 100 times faster than is currently available.
The City of Seattle has over 500 miles of unused fiber optic cable. We want to fire it up to help our local businesses and creative people innovate. To do that, we’re inviting private service providers to lease the dark fiber. We hope to negotiate with companies for better service to nearby neighborhoods who have poor quality service right now.
This partnership with UW came about as part of Gig.U, a new national initiative to spur innovation and economic growth by bringing high-speed fiber to neighborhoods and business districts near 37 universities across the country. UW is a partner in the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, Gig.U for short. We are beginning with a national Request for Information (RFI) from service providers and others interested in tapping the City’s unused high-speed fiber. Providers could lease the fiber from the City, an option that the City has never previously offered. The deadline for responses to the Gig.U RFI is December 2. Based on the response, the City and UW will follow-up with targeted requests for proposals.
Gig.U can allow the City and University to develop a concentrated zone of fiber optic connectivity to act as a platform for innovation in nearby neighborhoods such as the University District, Eastlake, Cascade, and improve service to homes and businesses in South Lake Union. For example, some businesses in South Lake Union have access to high speed fiber, but many small businesses and residents do not. By leasing City fiber, private providers could connect service to residents in those locations. The leases could help the City recover the costs of installing the fiber.
The University is already wired with high-speed fiber, but building connections to residences and businesses nearby would extend it to off-campus projects. Currently, many neighborhoods are limited by copper phone lines and coaxial cable designed to carry telephone and television signals, which offer only a fraction of the bandwidth needed by today’s cutting-edge applications.
Our work on Gig.U is part of our ongoing efforts to connect more Seattle residents and businesses to high-speed broadband. The City recently expanded high-speed broadband in Pioneer Square, the city’s oldest neighborhood, which is now a hub for tech startups. The City leased empty conduit to service providers, allowing them to pull high-speed fiber through the conduit to serve neighboring buildings and businesses.
Check out this story from Geekwire for more on Gig.U.
Posted by: April Thomas