We posted in late 2012 about the possibility of Gigabit, a startup company, bringing a municipal high-speed fiber network to twelve Seattle neighborhoods by fall 2013 — including most of Capitol Hill and the Central District. That news was especially welcome in the CD, where residents have suffered with subpar service from commercial providers for decades.
But alas, it’s not to be. And now Gigabit owes the city money, too.
Here’s the word from Seattle Met:
Gigabit—a four-year-old, Cincinnatti-based startup that has announced plans to bring broadband to Topeka, KS, Chicago, Jackson, MS, and other cities—has not, to date, hooked up a single Internet connection anywhere—has apparently failed in its efforts to bring broadband to Chicago’s South Side, according to the tech site Chicago Grid, and has “fail[ed] to provide local residents with details” about its future plans.
Additionally, Gigabit has, according to Seattle’s Geekwire, failed to pay a bill of $52,250 to the city of Seattle—a minuscule but symbolic amount compared to the millions that would have been required to actually get the high-speed broadband project off the ground.
McGinn chose Gigabit to activate unused “dark fiber” in neighborhoods across Seattle last year. After delaying its planned rollout (and circumscribing it geographically) Gigabit acknowledged that it hadn’t managed to secure investor funding for its broadband system and was putting the plan on hold indefinitely.
McGinn scored political points from a widely distributed Washington Post story touting his advocacy for fast broadband and criticizing his opponent, now-Mayor Ed Murray, for benefiting from two independent expenditure campaigns that received money from Gigabit rival and Internet giant Comcast. (PubliCola reported on Murray’s Comcast money and the Gigabit angle prior to the Post‘s speculative story about Murray’s supposed bias against Gigabit due to his Comcast money.)
Murray told PubliCola he wasn’t opposed to Gigabit’s proposal, but would like to open up the broadband bidding process to more than one company.
This is frustrating. I was looking forward to what Gigabit would bring (and kept looking for evidence on their website). I don’t want to depend on Comcast, C-link, Clearwire for internet service. Market based competition is supposed to bring us better and less expensive internet. We pay more for our service and get slower service than many other countries around the world in which the government built the infrastructure. See http://billmoyers.com/segment/susan-crawford-on-why-u-s-internet-access-is-slow-costly-and-unfair/.