There are a growing number of cities that are looking seriously at bypassing the typical ISPs high-speed broadband access, and provide their citizens with true high-speed broadband access much like what we have seen Google do in Kansas City.
It might be too soon to think about declaring 2013 as the year that cities around the nation decide to give the traditional ISP companies the finger and roll out gigabit networks for its citizens en masse but I think that we are definitely seeing a real trend of this type of thing happening.
It is a trend that Google help publicize with its Google Fiber project that recently went live in Kansas City and has Eric Schmidt of Google saying that they are looking at extending the project to other cities. However, some cities aren’t waiting for the Google Fiber project to come their way and instead are beginning to build out their own gigabit network infrastructure often in partnership with other companies like Gigabit Squared.
This is the case with Chicago, Kansas City, Bristol (Tenn.), and now Seattle. These cities are all teaming up with Gigabit Squared in an effort to build a gigabit broadband network in a total of six college towns, including the cities already mentioned. In the case of Seattle, the new network would take advantage of the dark fiber network the city already owns.
For the Seattle deal there will be three parts to the network. First there is the fiber-to-home component that will reach some 50,000 homes in 12 of Seattle’s neighborhoods. Secondly, the city will see the network take advantage of point-to-point wireless. Lastly, some sort of mobile broadband service will come about.
From Gigabit Squared side this will mark its second fiber commitment under an already existing agreement that the company has with Blair Levin’s Gig.U project. The company’s first commitment was in Chicago and will see the project piggyback itself on the city’s upgrade to their utility infrastructure.
Even though there have been previous efforts by cities to provide their own broadband service to their residents, in most cases the projects failed due to pressure in the courts and lobbying of state houses by the telecoms and cable companies. What could make this different this time around is that you have companies like Google getting involved as well as cities that are willing to make this type of fiber project an integral part of any utility upgrades they are doing to their cities.
The snowball could be starting its roll and I don’t think that the telcos and cable companies are going to be able to stop the momentum this time around