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Will A More Narrow Focus Satisfy Seattle GON Supporters Or Will They Still Focus On Building A Monopoly?

June 24, 2015

iStock_000006799258SmallUpgrade Seattle, which supports building a government-owned broadband network (GON) in that city, recently held a town hall meeting in which participants discussed a recent report that found a city-wide GON would cost taxpayers up to $665 million.

While Upgrade Seattle maintained its position in favor of a GON, Seattle Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller called the project “risky.” He explained there was very little chance the city-owned network would attract the number of subscribers necessary to ensure financial stability. If the city failed to attract the subscribers it needed to make its finances balances, Mattmiller explained it would affect “taxpayers for at least 20 years for a service we’re not using.”

Christopher Mitchell from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a reliable supporter of GONs, even seemed to suggest Upgrade Seattle focus its efforts more narrowly. He argued, “The focus should be on the people who are not connected, the people who are left behind.” He advised, “To make sure everybody has a basic connection at home, there’s a $5 million budget to bring one-gigabit, fiber-to-the-premises internet access to tens of thousands of single-family homes in Beacon Hill, Central District, and Queen Anne. With all the transportation planning right now, it’s a good time to identify a fiber conduit in the ground.”

With current and potential city council members urging a complete government takeover of broadband in the city, however, it’s unclear whether the members of Upgrade Seattle will take this advice.

Once again: stayed tuned.