McGinn: Seattle remains committed to citywide municipal fiber

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says that his office is still committed to his campaign promise to build a fiber broadband network covering the entire city. He addressed the topic during a Q&A this week at The Stranger's Questionland:

We’ve put together an interdepartmental team to look at the issue and figure out what a high-level business plan for an advanced network might look like. The city has built and maintains a high speed, optic broadband network connecting schools, government facilities, and community institutions. The interdepartmental team’s business plan will guide the effort to expand broadband to businesses and homes. The plan will be completed in early 2011. Once the plan is finalized, the city will explore funding options and next steps.

McGinn's answer echoes the inclusion of broadband infrastructure as a component of the Seattle Jobs Plan recently released by the Office of Economic Development. This is encouraging news, at a time when the city is struggling financially and other major infrastructure projects (viaduct, bridge, waterfront) are demanding public attention and money.

It's no secret that many neighborhoods in Seattle lack affordable choices for fast, reliable broadband service as it is--affecting access to information, educational and job resources as well as business opportunities. Smaller cities across the country (recently including Chattanooga and nearby Edmonds) are responding to similar challenges by building public-owned fiber broadband capacity. Seattle officials have understood for several years the need for this kind of public investment--the challenge for McGinn will be to make sure that his plans to proceed are not overtaken by the inertial pressures of "Seattle process," or sidetracked by economic insecurity. We'll keep paying attention...

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