GigMap073114cSome Seattle residents will now have access to laser-quick Internet.

CenturyLink announced today that it will begin offering broadband upload and download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) — about 100 times faster than the average national broadband speed — to residential and business customers in four Seattle neighborhoods: Ballard, West Seattle, the Central District, and Beacon Hill. Other businesses in the Puget Sound area will also have access.

centurylinkThe high-speed service will cost $79.95 per month, but only when bundled with additional, qualifying CenturyLink services like a home phone or TV subscription. Most bundles will cost a minimum of $115 per month.

In Seattle, CenturyLink currently offers up to 40 Mbps for $29.95 per month. Meanwhile, Comcast offers 50 Mbps for $77.95 per month and 105 Mbps for $114.95 per month, both without bundle packages.

Residents, but not businesses, will be able to use gigabit speeds without any data caps. According to CenturyLink’s excessive use policy, there are no download limits for residential 1 Gbps customers.

Seattle is one of 13 cities where CenturyLink is launching new business and residential gigabit services today. Portland will also see the same rollout, while Spokane-area businesses will be able to use the 1 Gbps service. CenturyLink already offered the high-speed Internet in parts of Omaha, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

“Seattle is technology city, but there are a number of steps we as a city must take to remain a national leader, including bringing cutting-edge Internet service to more businesses and residents,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement. “CenturyLink’s investment in 1-gigabit fiber is a very positive step in our city’s much larger effort to increase competition and broaden access to high-speed Internet – especially for those in underserved areas of our city.”

CenturyLink’s fiber offering comes eight months after plans to bring gigabit Internet to thousands of Seattle residents crumbled after Cincinnati-based Gigabit Squared failed to raise enough money to implement a planned high-speed Internet network in 14 Seattle neighborhoods using the city’s dormant “dark fiber” network. Gigabit, which is now being sued by the City of Seattle for an unpaid bill, planned to offer 1 Gbps for $80 per month.

CenturyLink, which was fined today by Washington state regulators over billing errors, will not be using the city’s dark fiber for its gigabit network for now and instead will be built on the company’s existing fiber network.

“We have received great support from community and government leaders in Seattle who see the growth opportunities that broadband speeds of up to 1 Gig bring to the city,” a company spokesperson told GeekWire. “We will continue to explore new opportunities to expand our 1 Gig network.”

Interestingly, CenturyLink had previously tried to expand its fiber network in Seattle a few years ago, but certain city rules made it tough for the company from doing so. In its initial gigabit rollout, CenturyLink will be using aerial boxes, so SDOT Director’s Rule 2-2009 won’t come into play.

The company is launching a fiber network in the Emerald City just two months after it closed its Seattle customer care center and asked 160 employees to either relocate, apply for other positions within the company or receive severance packages

On top of the new gigabit offering, CenturyLink also plans on opening its new Cloud Development Center in Seattle, which will be operated with help from employees of Tier 3 — a Bellevue-based cloud computing startup that CenturyLink acquired this past November. The company is also building three new large data centers in the area, and still has naming rights to CenturyLink Field.

Mayor Murray, who took over in January, has made it a priority to improve Seattle’s high-speed Internet options and expressed interest earlier this year in evaluating the city’s relationship with Comcast. Seattle has a franchise agreement with Comcast that expires January 20, 2016.

Murray, who is also open to the idea of a publicly-funded Internet utility, will be addressing the media on this topic on Tuesday at 9:15 a.m., so check back for an update on his comments.

[Editor’s note: CenturyLink is a GeekWire sponsor.]

[Editor’s note 2: This post was updated with more information from CenturyLink at 7 a.m. PT.]

Update, 10 a.m. PT:

mayormurray21The biggest piece of news from Murray’s presser was that the mayor plans to submit legislation to City Council that will change the SDOT Director’s Rule 2-2009 and allow companies like CenturyLink to more easily build out fiber networks.

In order to reach residents with a fiber network, telecom companies must install new equipment boxes in neighborhoods. However, the Director’s Rule makes this quite difficult because it currently requires approval from at least 60 percent of homeowners within a 100 feet radius of a given box.

Murray noted how the rule was created when these boxes looked like “large refrigerators,” but now that the fiber boxes are smaller, he wants to amend the rule and allow more companies to build fiber networks in Seattle.

There was an odd moment during the press conference when CenturyLink Seattle General Manager Sue Anderson noted how her company’s gigabit rollout announced today did not require changes to the Director’s Rule since it is utilizing an aerial deployment. Just as she said that, Murray stepped in.

“We need to codify these changes before we allow this to proceed,” Murray said, referring to changes in the Director’s Rule.

Anderson would not provide a specific deadline for a complete gigabit rollout into the four neighborhoods and only noted that “it’s starting right now and will continue into 2015.”

Meanwhile, new City of Seattle CTO Michael Mattmiller referenced Seattle’s startups and the need for faster Internet connections.

“With gigabit speeds we can turn more ideas that start in Seattle into the next generation of tech startups that continue to make us a success,” Mattmiller said.

Comments

  • Joe

    writing headlines for articles is hard!

  • rick gregory

    That’s an interesting choice of neighborhoods. No Cap Hill, no QA, no Fremont. Did they give any reasoning on why those were chosen? And any timetable for next steps?

    • Taylor Soper

      No concrete reasons given on these specific neighborhoods, but Murray did reference “underserved areas of our city.”

      CenturyLink was vague on a timetable/deadline. Just noted that the rollout will start now and continue into 2015.

      • rick gregory

        Thanks Taylor. I’ve nothing against those areas, just struck me as odd. It will be interesting to see how they deal with areas where there are fewer large buildings and more single family houses.

  • Jemma Nelson

    Some Seattle folk can already get gigabit internet from CondoInternet, also for $80/month. No bundle with other services, which could be either good or bad, depending on your perspective.

    • Tori

      A few of us don’t live in your evil condos.

      • Jemma Nelson

        I’m actually in an apartment building, but yeah, it certainly isn’t available for everyone. That’s why I said “some.”

  • http://moreblinktag.com/ Grant Goodale

    Some interesting commentary in the article on this over at DSLReports:

    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/CenturyLink-Promises-1-Gbps-in-Parts-of-16-Cities-129953

    In addition to the gem of a phrase “Fiber to the Press Release”, the article points out that availability in the Seattle neighborhoods listed is likely limited to condo and apartment buildings where a single fiber run lights up many customers at once. Detached homeowners likely have a while to wait. This also likely explains why Cap Hill, Fremont, etc. are still waiting – fewer large condo/apartment projects.

    • rick gregory

      Ah, mostly to multi dwelling buildings. Makes sense, but also a serious limitation in a city like Seattle that has a lot of areas where single family houses predominate.

      • http://moreblinktag.com/ Grant Goodale

        Agreed. This is also why the changes to Rule 2-2009 mentioned in the Update, above, are so important – making it easier to get fiber deployed to the curb deployed will mean faster rollouts for the rest of us.

  • Mark Firmani

    Is it totemic that the CL site’s which allows you to see if your area is covered by the service does not work?

    • Drew

      No, that’s normal. On a good day their website is slow.

  • Donald Tripp

    I’ve had their gigabit service for over 6 months already. Its provided to several condo and apt properties in the form of gigabit passive optical, basically shared fiber to the premises. On off hours it will push close to 1 gig easy, at peak it will still push 500.

  • Julia

    Speaking from West Seattle where CLink’s max speed in my neighborhood is 1.5 – 3 Mbps I welcome their fiber with open arms! Hear that Comcast?

    • JanS

      no kidding….West Seattle always seems to be left behind..I suppose because we’re “so far away”….isn’t that what we always hear? ;-|

    • RealityIsPixels

      I have no idea what you’re talking about… I live in West Seattle and have Centurylink’s 12Mbps plan and am aware they offer even faster here.

  • Keith Tyler

    Had no idea they laid off a whole call center in Seattle. I say fuck CenturyLink in the nose, and for plenty of reasons on top of that.

  • buzzbruggeman

    Just checked the CenturyLink page for Leschi, and speeds are 1.5MB. Nice, just a notch better than dialup. Is this a great offer or what.

  • Jimmy Rustler

    When is this going to start? I live in Ballard and the Centurylink site doesn’t list the option for me.

  • imaginetheworldphotos

    Fiber to the premise is fine….but how often are you there? I hope the city is considering a ubiquitous approach to enable high speed connectivity wherever Seattl-ites roam. Will they run fiber or are they going to use Ethernet over copper for the last mile? Hmmmm….most new homes never installed phone service so those homes will be interesting to service. What about content? If you don’t have a smart device, you don’t stream your content so you still require a redundant connection to Comcast or Dish. Let’s consider many of the struggling people that live within the city in all solutions

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