Seattle will now be able to lease unused fiber optic cabling throughout the city to private companies, possibly sparking faster Internet connectivity and creating a more competitive marketplace. The Seattle City Council approved the measure today in a vote of 8-0.
“The council’s vote allows us to challenge the private sector to use our unused fiber to provide better service to homes and businesses,” said Mayor Mike McGinn in a statement. “To compete in the world economy means that we need better digital infrastructure to support local innovation, create jobs and improve our quality of life.”
The City of Seattle has worked with The University of Washington, King County, Seattle Public Schools, Washington State Ferries and other government entities over the past 14 years to maintain and install fiber optic cable throughout the city, a network that now spans more than 500 miles.
Mayor McGinn has pushed hard to bring fiber optic cable to Pioneer Square, a high-tech hub that historically had been bypassed by the big telecommunications companies. Comcast won a high-speed Internet contract for the neighborhood last summer, with the company saying at the time that it had always wanted to serve the area but chose not to given the high costs of laying new fiber in the neighborhood.
Previously on GeekWire: Seattle and UW look to light up 500 miles of fiber to help solve broadband woes