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Seattle Pulls Plug on Broadband Network
A Decade of Consideration Ends With a Whimper
by Karl Bode 08:38AM Wednesday Jun 06 2012
For much of the last decade Seattle has explored the idea of building their own ultra-fast broadband network. Much of that motivation was fueled by the sub-standard service provided in the region by regional telco Qwest (now CenturyLink), which in turn resulted in regional cable operator Comcast not working very hard. Seattle has announced that the city is finally pulling the plug on the idea -- and is even scrapping the small city-run Wi-Fi effort they started back in 2005. "With the general-fund budget situation being the way it is, I recommended to the mayor — and he agreed — we should shut it down," said Bill Schrier, chief technology officer. That $100,000 needed to run the Wi-Fi network is headed elsewhere, and the city is selling off portions of their internal fiber network to the highest bidder.

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wesm
Premium
join:1999-07-29
Redmond, WA

Well, that's disappointing

I wonder why telecommunications is such a neglected topic in the Puget Sound region. In Seattle, we're stuck with CenturyLink, Comcast (this being the better of three bad choices) or if you're really unlucky, Broadstripe. Only people who can afford to high-roll it in one of the downtown condos or apartments can get truly awesome connectivity through Condo Internet or one of the Covad resellers that still exists. This is in a city that hosts Amazon, Google, and large chunks of Microsoft.

On the Eastside, home to Nintendo and Microsoft, our choices are Comcast or Frontier. While Frontier does operate a FiOS system, this isn't available to every Eastside city (Bellevue, Issaquah, and Sammamish stand out), thus leaving Comcast or Frontier's copper network as the only choices.

Is it just not profitable to do data and/or video up here? Does everyone just use the Internet connectivity at the office then give up the computer when they get home?
sk1939
Premium
join:2010-10-23
Mclean, VA
kudos:10
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Re: Well, that's disappointing

said by wesm:

Is it just not profitable to do data and/or video up here?

Not profitable enough for ISP's who would prefer to not invest in any form of upgrade. Frontier is in bad financial shape besides.

said by wesm:

Does everyone just use the Internet connectivity at the office then give up the computer when they get home?

Yes, which is why productivity is down.

ThomasYoung

@optonline.net
said by wesm:

I wonder why telecommunications is such a neglected topic in the Puget Sound region. ... This is in a city that hosts Amazon, Google, and large chunks of Microsoft.

Not that surprising. There is only a slight correlation between geek density and broadband accessibility. Some areas in Silicon Valley are also stuck with slow DSL/cable, while parts of Sacramento have FTTH.

Ultimately, geeks are just too small a proportion of the population to change the overall economics of a broadband buildout.

said by wesm:

Is it just not profitable to do data and/or video up here? Does everyone just use the Internet connectivity at the office then give up the computer when they get home?

Path-dependence. Your area might be perfect for broadband, but if accidents of history saddled you with a weak telecom company that can't afford upgrades, that's a tough bar to jump over.

For example, you pointed out that Seattle is on CenturyLink and Eastside is on Frontier. That's because most of the Eastside was undeveloped until after World War II. When the United States was being wired up in the early 20th century, the Bell System got all the juicy bits, and the independents got left with the scraps. Thus, the Eastside was not part of the Bell System even in the monopoly days -- it was served by GTE.

When Verizon bought GTE, in some sense the Eastside finally joined the Bell System. For a while, it looked like the Eastside got lucky in the takeover lottery. Verizon was deploying FTTH, while Qwest (which had bought US West) was in dire financial straits.

But then Verizon discovered that people weren't eager enough to pay for Fios. And the Great Recession hit. And Verizon had labor trouble with their wireline assets. They decided to shed their rural assets and focus on their more-profitable wireless division instead. Since Seattle belonged to Qwest, the Eastside would have been isolated from other Verizon assets if it did not go with the rest of rural Washington state. So the Eastside got sold to Frontier. Which agreed to take on a bucketload of debt -- and also inherited a partially built-out Fios network that it can't really afford.

The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. In a world of mergers and spinoffs, fortunes can change with the stroke of a pen. Weak companies can get taken over by strong companies. Strong areas can get spun off with weak areas. Debt incurred in a merger can cripple companies. And accidents from the 1900s are still having an effect today.

--

Seattle ran into trouble when US West got sold to Qwest, which took on a great deal of debt to pay for the deal. Qwest almost went bankrupt in the aftermath of the dot-com bust, and has been in a weak financial position ever since. They only seemed to be doing OK by milking their network and deferring upgrades.

We'll see how Centurylink does.

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
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join:2012-01-26
AA169|170
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1 edit

Oh well

Hope those bloated employee wages, pensions and bennies are worth it citizens of Seattle.

Gbcue
Premium
join:2001-09-30
Santa Rosa, CA
kudos:8
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Re: Oh well

said by skeechan:

Hope those bloated employee wages, pensions and bennies are worth it citizens of Seattle.

Don't bring employees/pensions/benefits into this, and BTW, linking to a 1000 page PDF, smart, give a summary if you're going to attack the good hard working people of Seattle. As if after 10 years this project was magically going to get off the ground? It took years of non-planning only to get shut down now.

As if CA doesn't have problems.

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
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3 edits

1 recommendation

Re: Oh well

Where do you think the "needed" money is going? Certainly not for better "services" for the citizens of Seattle. And yeah, California is a disaster too, for the exact same reason.

Too bad the citizens of Seattle don't have the same rights to reform the system that those in San Jose (in Santa Clara County) do, and did yesterday by more than 2 to 1. A similar measure passed overwhelmingly in San Diego as well. The taxpayers have had enough of endlessly surrendering services and facing endless tax increases to fund public sector union largess.
Telco

join:2008-12-19
Reviews:
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2 edits

Re: Oh well

People would have to be crazy to take up any government position in 2012, as the GOP establishment has made them the scapegoat of America's ails.

Rather than ask for industrialized world benefits from the private sector, Republicans actually want everyone to be reduced to Walmart wages too.

It's mindbogglingly and unprecedented in human history, that the GOP base is the only group of people on the planet that want less for everyone but the 1%.

Then again, Republicans like yourself have no problem whatsoever using illegal aliens to save a dime or profiteering off war, corruption, and oil money. After all, it's you who employees the majority of illegal aliens - not Google or Apple.

Republicans who live in liberal states are the worst of them all, as to you it's all about your bottom line, which is always given priority over America's prosperity.

BTW, Instead of being hypocritical and enjoying the perks of Democratic states, how about you leave 'liberal' California and move to Republicuuun country like Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and so forth.
FloridaBoy

join:2009-06-22
Bradenton, FL

Re: Oh well

American consumers have the ballbat in hand to make corporations listen. Use your wallet. If they are greedy, then kick them in the nads for it while rewarding those companies that deserve it.

Controlling 70 percent of a 14 trillion dollar economy is a big enough club to get companies doing what you want without waiting for any laws or reforms.
Telco

join:2008-12-19

1 recommendation

Re: Oh well

100% agree. Now for the hard part, trying to educate the average American about this power.

This freedom to choose is also why the plutocrats and Koch types have a real disdain for government.

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
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3 edits

Re: Oh well

Oh no, they're plenty educated. Even us silly folks on the left coast, both Dummycrats and Republitards have figured out the current government overspending is unsustainable and fleecing business isn't the solution.
Telco

join:2008-12-19
Reviews:
·Callcentric

Re: Oh well

California's problems have more to do with across the board under-taxation in various areas, the massive drain of illegal aliens and anchor babies, and the huge issue with crime. Now add in the tens of billions remitted abroad by these workers, that have no long-term vested interest in the place.

People in other states purchase billions of dollars of goods from CA and do not pay a dime in tax. Implement a federal GST and this problem is solved overnight, with the appropriate funds redistributed back to CA. It also close numerous black and grey market loopholes.

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
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1 edit

Re: Oh well

There is no under-taxation going on in California and giving more money to a government that is completely out of control and rampant with fraud, waste and corruptions is not the solution to any problem.

Government doesn't have a revenue problem. It has a beyond horrible spending problem. Government at all levels is a virus that must be contained for the host, as in the people, to prosper. Without containment we clearly see it grows like a tumor until it finally kills the host.

Liberal hypocrites should stop expecting everyone else to pay for their stuff and stop blaming everyone else for their problems and laziness. Maybe if they didn't waste 4 years in school getting a degree in Art History with a minor in Sanskit they would have a salable skill and wouldn't be blaming "The Man" for their situation.

Liberals can try raising my taxes but what will happen is I simply fire my employees and take my business and jobs to another state as so many other small businesses have. And you may say good but when the productive part of society is gone liberals will have no one one to pull the cart full of the unproductive citizens. Meanwhile they'll start with my taxes and finish with yours and when you start having to pay you will change your tune just like the liberals in San Jose did yesterday.
FloridaBoy

join:2009-06-22
Bradenton, FL
I wish I had faith that would happen but I am not going to hold my breath.

There are a lot of smart guys with good info on this site but how many complain about data prices and other problems but still send in their checks every month to the same companies they complain about?

Of course, consumers also have a small part in this in their race for cheap too.

XANAVirus
Premium
join:2012-03-03
Lavalette, WV
Reviews:
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Voting with your wallet?
That never works.

Corporations will have other people who do buy from them, and no doubt always will have SOMEONE willing to do so.

No matter how much you 'vote' with your wallet, do you expect it will really make a difference?

There's the people who pay and the people who won't pay, and there are no traces of individuality.

Saying that you or I should vote with our wallets only means that either we will find a competitor or will do without, will not mean that the corporations will listen - they have others, they don't NEED you or me.

Just as people aren't required to buy from a certain place, and as you say can vote with our wallets, corporations are only in it to make profits, it doesn't mean that it's your money or my money that will be their profit.
FloridaBoy

join:2009-06-22
Bradenton, FL

Re: Oh well

XANA, I agree with you to a certain extent. Individually, no they probablt would not know. However, if you get serious numbers doing it, then I would think they would pay attention.

If every Corporation is greedy and concerned about stock price, then any serious loss of revenue will impact them severely. Especially ones with a serious CAPEX budget.

John moser

@embarqhsd.net
The "perks" of Democrat states? We sure do love those multi-billion dollar deficits, don't we? Gotta love the crime, too. BTW, the term is employ, not "employees". I guess Democrat run public school systems are a "perk" too.

Simba7
I Void Warranties

join:2003-03-24
Billings, MT
It's the 3 P's at it again.. Piss Poor Planning.

It's not that hard to set up a decent wireless network and sure as hell shouldn't cost $100,000 with the right equipment and people.

..and no, you don't need extremely high end (and priced) equipment to do this.
--
Bresnan 30M/5M | CenturyLink 5M/896K
MyWS[PnmIIX3@3.3G,8G RAM,500G+1.5T+2T HDDs,Win7]
WifeWS[A64@2G,2G RAM,120G HDD,Win7]
Router[2xP3@1G,768M RAM,18G HDD,Allied Telesyn AT2560FX,2xDigital DE504,Sun X1034A,2xSun X4444A,SMC 8432BTA,OpenBSD]

footballdude
Premium
join:2002-08-13
Imperial, MO

Soak the rich!

Make Bill Gates pay for it! It's not right he has so much money!!!!
axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC

Re: Soak the rich!

Man, you need to make your sarcasm more obvious. I can't advocate him spending money for Seattle broadband instead of vaccines in Africa.
Wilsdom

join:2009-08-06

Re: Soak the rich!

Vaccines for Africans when kittens are dying? You and Bill are monsters!

firephoto
We the people
Premium
join:2003-03-18
Brewster, WA
said by axus:

Man, you need to make your sarcasm more obvious. I can't advocate him spending money for Seattle broadband instead of vaccines in Africa.

I'll be that guy that points out the drama and good press this creates while ignoring healthcare in the US. No sarcasm. Maybe if a bunch of well off job creators solved some problems in this country instead of creating wedges in society for political and financial gain it wouldn't leave people like me wondering why we need to help out poor foreign countries before helping out or own poor or lacking areas in the US.

Maybe if the Bill Gates of the world were actually creating something for Africa like manufacturing and local economies it would sit better but so far the people at the top seem to just be taking oil and diamonds and leaving religious wars behind in alternating swaths of the continent.
--
Say no to JAMS!

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
Premium
join:2012-01-26
AA169|170
kudos:2

Re: Soak the rich!

It would be ever better if Africa created manufacturing and local economies for Africa.

firephoto
We the people
Premium
join:2003-03-18
Brewster, WA

Re: Soak the rich!

said by skeechan:

It would be ever better if Africa created manufacturing and local economies for Africa.

And even that gets into rising needs for the US but I keep seeing things that say the US actually makes more things than ever so I guess I'm just not in the right market to ever own those things that have the old USA stamped on them. I'd like to kick the guy in the nuts that outsourced basic hand tool making to china. It also makes me wonder how china can make anything with those cheap tools or if they secretly have a domestic brand just for china because I can't see them assembling anything for very long with a wrench that says china on it.
--
Say no to JAMS!

El Quintron
Resident Mouth Breather
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Etobicoke, ON
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said by skeechan:

It would be ever better if Africa created manufacturing and local economies for Africa.

You are aware that Africa is a continent and not a country right?
--
Everything in moderation... Including Moderation --Oscar Wilde

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
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Re: Soak the rich!

Sure, didn't say it wasn't. There isn't any one particular county in Africa that couldn't benefit from an industrial economy fueled by their immense resources of labor and natural resources. If there was a particular country I had it mind, I would have mentioned it.

El Quintron
Resident Mouth Breather
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Re: Soak the rich!

said by skeechan:

Sure, didn't say it wasn't. There isn't any one particular county in Africa that couldn't benefit from an industrial economy fueled by their immense resources of labor and natural resources. If there was a particular country I had it mind, I would have mentioned it.

So you're also aware that some countries in Africa are doing great and others aren't doing so hot, and that there isn't necessarily a continent wide strategy to address this?
--
Everything in moderation... Including Moderation --Oscar Wilde

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
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Re: Soak the rich!

Which countries are doing "great"? And this number, if it exists is high enough to not warrant an Africa-zone strategy for optimal economic development?

El Quintron
Resident Mouth Breather
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Re: Soak the rich!

said by skeechan:

if it exists is high enough to not warrant an Africa-zone strategy for optimal economic development?

Why do they need to carry the weight of the rest of the Continent? If they're capable they should be pursuing countries who can afford to pay top dollar for their products no?
--
Everything in moderation... Including Moderation --Oscar Wilde

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
Premium
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Re: Soak the rich!

I just asked which countries were doing "great". I don't see any doing "great". What I see is the African Union squandering an opportunity to be an economic superpower.
sk1939
Premium
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Mclean, VA
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Re: Soak the rich!

said by skeechan:

I just asked which countries were doing "great". I don't see any doing "great". What I see is the African Union squandering an opportunity to be an economic superpower.

So, you want the African Union to attempt to become econonmically unified? It's working so well for the Europeans after all.

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
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Re: Soak the rich!

It's the unified currency causing the issues in the EU and there is no reason why an economic union would require a single currency. If Greece didn't use the Euro, they would simply print money and have higher inflation than say Germany. The Greek problem is the same as California's problem...they over-promise but can't print their way out of it like the Fed can. The AU members have their own currencies now, but they could work closely together on free trade agreements and economic resources, pooling their efforts for economic development. But that won't happen so long as corruption is rampant.
sk1939
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Re: Soak the rich!

said by skeechan:

The AU members have their own currencies now, but they could work closely together on free trade agreements and economic resources, pooling their efforts for economic development.



Not going to happen, since most will not pull their own weight, and have ongoing internal issues that need to be resolved like internal terrorism, civil war, genocide, border disputes with neighboors, etc.

said by skeechan:

corruption is rampant

That dosen't help either.

said by skeechan:

no reason why an economic union would require a single currency

There is plenty of reason for it, it allows for simpler currency markets, promotes trade with neighbors, and allows for simpler currency regulation. However the downsides are evident.

El Quintron
Resident Mouth Breather
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said by skeechan:

I don't see any doing "great".

Perhaps you should educate yourself about Africa, rather than dictating armchair economic policies to them.
--
Everything in moderation... Including Moderation --Oscar Wilde

••••••
elister

join:2006-07-17
Seattle, WA

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn

I believe it was one of his campaign pledges to bring fourth a faster broadband internet access, now he's selling off every last bit of it.

This goes along with the last pledge in which he said he would honor the agreement met by the city council (to replace a waterfront elevated highway with a tunnel) and not attempt to block its construction. Within weeks of being sworn in, he led a campaign to block the tunnel project, which utterly failed.

All the mayor cares about is pushing light rail / street car transit and more bike lanes (but make drivers pay 100% of it). He's a one term mayor that really doesnt care about anything else.

Maybe the next mayor will have a spine.