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On December 13, 2012 then-Mayor Mike McGinn announced a partnership between the City of Seattle, the University of Washington, and a company called Gigabit Squared that was to bring ultra high speed Internet connections to twelve neighborhoods within Seattle.1 Called Gigabit Seattle, the plan promised a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network to 50,000 city households and businesses, serving over 100,000 residents.2 The letter of intent between the city and Gigabit Squared stated the company would seek $25 million in capital with the network built and operational within 24 months that would provide connection speeds to customers of up to 1000 megabits per second (Mbps).3 The announcements were high-profile and grandiose, with eruptions of applause and whistles at Mayor McGinn’s announcement of the project to a standing-room only crowd at Seattle Tech Meetup.4 But barely a year after the announcement, on January 7, 2014, the project had apparently entirely fallen apart, with the newly elected Mayor Ed Murray declaring the project dead and Gigabit Squared owing the city $52,250 in unpaid bills for work the city did for the company. What happened?
Were the initial promises too good to be true? Had the parties grossly underestimated the massive scope of the project? Had Gigabit Squared misrepresented its position to the city, over-promising and under-performing as the project stumbled? While definitive answers are hard to come by, it seems the answers to all of these questions are yes. But that does not mean ultra high speed Internet connections cannot come to Seattle. The desire from both the city government and residents seems to be present, and some individuals are picking up the pieces to see another project come to fruition. But it must be understood just how important the project is for Seattle to continue as a leader in technology, medicine, and business.
University of Washington Technology Law and Public Policy Clinic
Computer Law | Science and Technology Law
Gigabit Internet in Seattle,
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/techclinic/10