Seattle plans fiber to the home pilot project

The city of Seattle is planning to build a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) pilot project that will use the excess capacity on the city-owned fiber network to bring high-speed broadband service to residents and businesses. This is not a plan to bring FTTh to the entire city. Seattle entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Letter of Intent with Gigabit Squared to roll out the network in 12 neighbourhoods. The University of Washington is one of the parties to the project.

Indeed, this small pilot is by no means a done deal. Gigabit Squared needs to raise money to build the network. The MoU will help them attract investors. They expect to begin offering fiber broadband service in the autumn of 2013.

The network will be called Gigabit Seattle and has three parts (according to the press release):

(1) Fiber to the home and business: Gigabit Seattle plans to build out a fiber-to-the-home/fiber-to-the-business (FTTH/FTTB) network to more than 50,000 households and businesses in 12 demonstration neighborhoods, connected together with the excess capacity that Gigabit Seattle will lease from the city’s own fiber network.

The initial 12 neighborhoods include: Area 1: the University of Washington’s West Campus District, Area 2: South Lake Union, Area 3: First Hill/Capitol Hill/Central Area, Area 4: the University of Washington’s Metropolitan Tract in downtown Seattle, Area 5: the University of Washington’s Family Housing at Sand Point, Area 6: Northgate, Area 7: Volunteer Park Area, Area 8: Beacon Hill and SODO Light Rail Station and Areas 9-12: Mount Baker, Columbia City, Othello, and Rainier Beach.

(2) Dedicated gigabit to multifamily housing and offices: To provide initial coverage beyond the 12 demonstration neighborhoods, Gigabit Seattle intends to build a dedicated gigabit broadband wireless umbrella to cover Seattle providing point-to-point radio access up to one gigabit per second. This will be achieved by placing fiber transmitters on top of 38 buildings across Seattle. These transmitters can beam wireless signals to multifamily housing and offices across Seattle, even those outside the twelve demonstration neighborhoods, as long as they are in a line of sight. Internet service would be delivered to individual units within a building through existing wiring. This wireless coverage can provide network and Internet services to customers that do not have immediate access to fiber in the city.

(3) Next generation mobile wireless internet: Gigabit Seattle will provide next generation wireless cloud services in its 12 neighborhoods to provide customers with mobile access.

The fiber network, the gigabit dedicated wireless connections, and wireless cloud services neighborhoods will together provide broadband wired and wireless network and Internet services, giving Seattle customers new choices.

This is the first demonstration project of Gigabit Squared’s Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program (GNGP), which will bring other projects like this to promote gigabit network innovation in six selected university communities across the country. The $200 million broadband program was developed in partnership with The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project (Gig.U).

NOTE: It’s not clear who is going to act as the service provider. I am assuming it will be Gigabit Squared. However, Gigabit Squared’s About page shows that they are an engineering/consulting firm, not a traditional ISP. 

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