Seattle, WA

Mayor Ed MurrayMayor Ed Murray, Seattle, WA

On Seattle: “As the birthplace to Microsoft, Boeing, and a thriving startup community, the City of Seattle is synonymous with technology. Broadband has become an integral part of daily life here and continues to transform health care, government services, education, commerce and industry. Like the electric grid and the interstate highway system that fueled economic growth earlier in our history, gigabit broadband internet service delivered over fiber optic cables is the critical infrastructure of the 21st century. Gigabit broadband internet service is essential for our continued economic growth and for maintaining our position as a technology leader in the future.”

On Next Century Cities: “Collaborating with the Next Century Cities members and harnessing their collective knowledge will benefit our city. Locally and nationally, our economy and democracy depend on working with other municipalities to navigate a path forward for determining our digital future. This future depends on ensuring that next generation fiber networks enhance economic growth and social advancement. I’m excited to be part of an organization committed to advancing vital broadband service.”

What Seattle is working on: Over the past decade the City of Seattle has conducted several studies to understand the social and economic benefits of broadband networks and the feasibility of constructing and operating a Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) network in Seattle. The City is focused on ensuring residents have access to competitive, affordable, and equal broadband internet options that approach a gigabit bandwidth standard. To achieve this goal, Mayor Murray has outlined a three pronged strategy:

1) Reduce regulatory barriers. Cities are competing with one another to attract high-speed broadband opportunities. To make Seattle more welcoming to these opportunities, we are increasing access to city infrastructure and simplifying our permitting processes.

2) Explore public/private partnerships. The City is investigating in ways to engage experienced commercial internet service providers that may be willing to partner with us and leverage our existing resources such as fiber and conduits to provide opportunities for improved access and increased competition.

3) Explore municipal broadband: While pursuing other options, the City is determining the feasibility of a city-operated fiber-to-the-premise municipal broadband solution that could bring high-speed access to Seattle households.

The strategy is yielding results, with two incumbent providers committing to build FTTP gigabit service to select neighborhoods. This is an important first step.  In addition, we expect to announce a new provider who will leverage the City’s existing fiber network to provide service in the near future.

The City is now working on the third step in my strategy by conducting a Broadband study designed to learn more about what it will take for the City to build and possibly operate a broadband network in the event commercial providers do not deliver competitive, affordable, and equal gigabit broadband internet service. The results of this study will be available by April 2015.