Slow broadband a drag on Seattle mayor's re-election campaign

I’ll have what she’s having.

Seattle mayor Mike McGinn is running for re-election and the editorial page of the Seattle Times, which has never particularly cared for him, is homing in on his failure to build fiber to every home and business in the city…

With a campaign pledge of broadband Internet for all, Mike McGinn promised big, delivered small, and hopes voters won’t notice the difference.

KUOW-FM, Seattle’s University of Washington-owned NPR powerhouse, reached a similar conclusion, although in a better researched and more nuanced way

When Mike McGinn ran for mayor in 2009, he campaigned on the promise of high-speed internet for all of Seattle. But once elected, he struggled to implement anything close to that. Four years later McGinn still presides over a city of internet haves and have-nots.

The article goes on to talk about what is working and what isn’t. Comcast gets a nod for upgrading at least some of the region to the theoretical 105 Mbps max it offers in other markets. CenturyLink hasn’t done as much, a problem it blames on neighborhood opposition to equipment cabinets on sidewalks.

The real “haves” in the KUOW story are the residents of more than fifty buildings that CondoInternet, a local company, serves. Its business model looks pretty straightforward: plumb a sufficiently large or affluent property with ethernet and hook it up to fiber or wireless backhaul, something its parent company, Spectrum Networks, also does for commercial customers in the Seattle area.

Speeds promised range from 100 Mbps ($60/month) to a gigabit ($120). No performance tests were mentioned, but neither were any complaints. It’s an apparently successful example of the fiber-to-the-basement business model I looked at in a study for the City of Palo Alto a couple of years ago.

McGinn’s latest broadband initiative, Gigabit Seattle, isn’t doing much besides turning up the volume on its marketing machine. All the “have nots” can do is hope it’s designed to outlive Seattle’s campaign season.