Internet access is the infrastructure challenge of the early 21st century. The internet, and access to the information and services it provides, is responsible for economic growth, job creation, education, and a better quality of life. But, the internet only creates value for those who have affordable access and the digital literacy skills to use that access effectively.
Fiber-to-the-Premises Feasibility Study
The City released results of its Fiber-to-the-Premises Feasibility Study, originally commissioned in December 2014 as part of Mayor Ed Murray’s three-part broadband internet strategy.
The report estimates a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) build-out to cost $480-$665 million– less than previous years’ cost estimates for municipal broadband. The mayor and city are actively exploring various funding options which could make a publicly owned high-speed Internet utility a possibility, knowing that a subscriber-only funding model would be challenging as enrollment rates would need to exceed 40 percent of the broadband market at a subscriber cost of $75 per month to be financially viable over the longterm– no other municipal broadband utility in the country has reached enrollment rates at that level. Mayor Murray is committed to increasing competition so that high-speed Internet is affordable and available citywide on an equitable basis.
Mayor Murray’s Strategy
- Reduce regulatory barriers: Cities are competing with one another to attract high-speed broadband opportunities. To make Seattle more welcoming to these opportunities, we must look at increasing access to city infrastructure and simplifying our permitting processes. Revisions to the SDOT Director’s Rule 2-2009 are a critical first step in reducing regulatory barriers. However, other regulations should also be reviewed.
- Explore public/private partnerships: We should investigate ways to engage experienced commercial internet service providers while we look to provide opportunities for improved access and increased competition. The City can potentially leverage existing resources, such as its fiber optic network, to provide service.
- Explore municipal broadband: While pursuing other options, the City should determine the feasibility of a city-operated fiber-to-the-premise municipal broadband solution that could bring high-speed access to Seattle households.
Broadband plan already yielding results
Last year, Mayor Murray sent legislation to City Council that brought more competition to the marketplace and more access to service – especially in neighborhoods that are currently underserved.
Murray’s legislation changed a regulatory barrier – the SDOT “director’s rule” – that has prevented companies from investing in their own high-speed fiber networks within the city.
“So much of our recent economic growth has been due to the success of high tech companies and start-ups that have chosen to make Seattle home,” said Murray. “Yet not all Seattleites are benefiting from our technology boom, and we know that some neighborhoods today lack adequate, competitive choices for broadband internet access. CenturyLink’s announcement to bring fiber internet access to tens of thousands of homes is an important first step in my broadband strategy, but there is more we can do as city to bring equal and affordable access to all.”