There was a lot of excitement in Seattle on Monday after Washington D.C. broadband developer Gigabit Squared announced its residential rates for the ultra high-speed fiber network in Seattle it agreed to build last December.
But Gigabit Squared actually isn’t the first to offer laser-quick Internet in the city. Spectrum Networks is a Seattle-based wholesale provider of Internet service to businesses. It also operates CondoInternet.net, a subsidiary of Spectrum that delivers ethernet-to-the-home connections in more than 50 condominiums in several Seattle neighborhoods.
CondoInternet has been offering up gigabit speeds since 2009 and actually tried to work with the city when it first sought out private companies for use of the city’s 500 miles of unused cabling throughout Seattle. The city ultimately decided to go with Gigabit Squared in December.
Spectrum Networks co-founder John van Oppen is supportive of the city trying to expand its gigabit efforts, but he’s a little wary of the hype surrounding Gigabit Squared’s plan.
van Oppen is disappointed that the city is focusing all its efforts on promoting Gigabit Squared’s offering when there are other local companies with the same capabilities and sufficient financial backing. CondoInternet already reaches about the same number of homes as Gigabit Squared will in its first rollout in early 2014.
Gigabit will first use a combination of the city’s unused “dark fiber” network and private fiber optic cables already available in Seattle, and then will begin building its own infrastructure after that.
That’s where van Oppen sees red flags.
“They are announcing pricing with no idea about the construction costs,” he said of Gigabit Squared. “They have never built any fiber infrastructure anywhere, ever, in the U.S. Until you know what it costs to build something like this out, it’s an awfully bold commitment to make.”
CondoInternet provides gigabit speeds for $120/month, which is $40 more than what Gigabit promises early next year. van Oppen said that they’re in the process of rolling out a new pricing plan for their gigabit service.
Van Oppen said his company is all for supporting the city’s vision of getting more high-speed Internet access to people, but is just perplexed at the latest moves.
“It just doesn’t seem very Seattle,” van Oppen said. “Usually we end up with initatives in Seattle that have lots of partners, but this project is not. I just kind of wish the Mayor would say, ‘Hey, here’s a group of companies that are committed to our gigabit mission and if they’re available in your area, talk to them.’”