Seattle group favors fiber

If Seattle wants a citywide broadband network to meet the future needs of its tech-savvy residents then fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) and not wireless is the answer, according to a group set up last year by the Seattle City Council.

The Task Force on Telecommunications Innovation in a recent report said that wireless technologies can't meet the minimum speeds of 25 megabits/sec that will be needed to deliver the two-way voice, data and video services that residents will expect in the future, though it could be a useful interim solution.

In the long term, the task force concluded, wireless will probably be used only as the mobile portion of the city network, or as part of a hybrid network.

The report also said that, if Seattle want this type of broadband infrastructure, then the city government will have to lead the way. The task force canvassed private companies about their plans to provide this kind of service and none indicated they intended to do so, if left to themselves.

Task force members recommended that the city build a broadband network to satisfy its own governmental needs, with the potential goal of extending it to support the creation of an open network that would be available to the public.

However, the task force also said that, with 2015 as the target to have this kind of broadband network in place, nothing is off the table and the city should continue to explore technologies other than FTTP as well as continuing to explore ways of bringing incumbent telecom providers and other companies into the mix.

It recommended establishing a city Office of Broadband to oversee these activities and report annually on their progress to the Mayor and city council.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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