Seattle broadband panel ponders muncipal service

by Tricia Duryee, Seattle Times

In the future, if tech-heavy Seattle wants to remain competitive at its own game, every household should have access to high-tech Internet services, according to a task-force report released yesterday.

The report carried an equally urgent message: The city should get involved by developing a fiber-optic network that would reach every home. It needs to do this, the report contended, because current telecommunications providers may not develop the services being built in other cities.

Originally, the city's Task Force on Telecommunications Innovation was formed to evaluate whether Seattle should blanket the city with wireless broadband technology called Wi-Fi. Other cities, including Philadelphia and San Francisco, have announced massive Wi-Fi plans, but the task-force report opposed the idea.

"Wi-Fi isn't a bad goal, but we have a much wider and larger goal to embrace," said Seattle City Councilman Jim Compton, who chairs the Utilities and Technology Committee, which heard the recommendations yesterday.

Instead, the task force said the goal should be for every home and business to have affordable access to broadband networks capable of providing voice, video and data by 2015. That would most likely require laying fiber-optic cable to each home, one of the most expensive options.

The report did not outline who would build the costly network, how it would be built, or where the money would come from.

The task force, made up of industry leaders, government officials, educators and former business leaders, met 13 times and gathered information from other cities, experts, technologists and local telecom providers

article originally published at Seattle Times.
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