October 19, 2017
TheStranger.Com reported earlier this month that the Seattle, Wash. city council will once again consider a measure that would allow local officials to explore the possibility of building a municipal broadband network.
According to the website, council member Rob Johnson “plans to introduce an amendment to the 2018 budget to hire a city staffer focused on municipal broadband and create a ‘shovel-ready’ plan for building it.” Johnson’s amendment would allocate $170,000 for the effort. The staff member would be asked to determine “the costs of building the system, how much users would pay per month, discounts for low-income people, when and where the service would be rolled out, potential revenue sources to fund it, and a possible ballot measure to get that funding.”
Seattle has asked these questions before. In fact, TheStranger notes that city leaders previously have cast aside the possibility of a municipal system, but the website doesn’t fully explain why. For anyone who missed that debate, here’s a recap:
The city would face stiff competition in its endeavor to attract nearly half of city residents to a municipal network. According to Broadband Now, nearly 99 percent of homes have access to broadband. In fact, most residents in King County, where Seattle sits, have access to speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. (A quarter of King County residents also have access to gigabit speeds.) There are 12 residential providers that operate in different parts of the city and 24 companies that offer broadband plans to businesses.
Seattle’s City Council will consider Johnson’s amendment this month. Stay tuned to this blog for updates.
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