Teetering Tacoma muni cable system finds five potential partners

25 May 2018 by Steve Blum
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Five companies are bidding to partner up with the City of Tacoma to help run its municipal cable system, which offers Internet and video services. The city issued a request for information and qualifications in March, and received five responses, according to a story by Candice Ruud in the Tacoma News Tribune (h/t to the BSL List for the pointer)…

One of the parties that’s interested in being a part of the future of Click Cable TV is Wave Broadband, the same company whose 2015 offer to lease Click for 40 years sparked a local political movement to keep the municipally-owned network in public hands…

Wave responded to the call and said it seeks long-term use of the Click network in exchange for compensating [the City of Tacoma’s municipal utility operation] with leasing fees, network upgrades and performance guarantees.

Local internet service providers Rainier Connect and Advanced Stream, both of which currently lease space on the Click network, submitted responses. European-based Yomura Fiber and relative newcomer Wyyerd also expressed interest in taking over Click’s operations.

According to the article, the two smaller, local ISPs – Rainier Connect and Advanced Stream – don’t appear to have the financial horsepower to meet the city’s requirements. Wave, which is also based in the Puget Sound area, and the two outside companies seem to have more financial and operational heft behind them.

The Click system needs financial help. It’s a 1990s cable system, mostly limited to 750 MHz of analog bandwidth, with an average node size of 1,200 homes. Click needs a big injection of cash to upgrade its infrastructure to support current, industry standard service levels, and stem its losses.

All of the five companies said they would meet the city’s 12 policy goals, which include adhering to network neutrality principles and running the system on an open access basis, maintaining public ownership and “maintaining financial stability”.

You can download the five responses here.