Reclaim the Media Report: Seattle Needs Public Broadband

Reclaim the Media has published a position paper making the case for a publicly owned fiber network in Seattle. Seattle is in a difficult position, being served by Comcast and Qwest's copper networks while the suburbs are being snapped up by Verizon's fiber-powered FiOS and nearby publicly owned Tacoma Click! has attracted more than 100 businesses.

Not only is Seattle underserved relative to its neighbors, it has a significant digital divide from neighborhood to neighborhood. Reclaim the Media offers a solution to deal with both problems.

Going in Seattle's favor is a significant amount of fiber assets and the public power utility, City Light. Compared to other cities of its size, Seattle is among the best poised to build a publicly owned citywide fiber-to-the-home network. Now it needs the motivation.

Make no mistake, the costs would be significant- toward the mid hundreds of millions. Of course, this amount is tiny in comparison to the costs of replacing the crucial 520 bridge and the amount is similar to the public financing for beautiful Safeco Field.

Fiber-to-the-home for everyone or a sports stadium? That is an interesting decision. I think most would recognize the economic impact from being internationally competitive in broadband is considerably higher than that of a stadium. While the costs are substantial, they should be put in perspective.

RTM is right to note:

With the right vision backed by strong decisions, Seattle is poised to become a true national leader in connecting its residents, businesses, community organizations and public institutions with next-generation Internet access. Federal broadband stimulus funds, available for application this year, provide a remarkable opportunity for bold elected leaders to push forward our city's best plans, and make real our shared vision of affordable broadband for everyone.