Gigabit Squared is turning into a saga that’s perhaps more aptly titled Gigabit Screwed. In the latest chapter, the president and co-founder of the company, Mark Ansboury, confirmed that’s he’s parting ways with the Cincinnati, Ohio-based broadband Internet provider.
The decision comes just five days after GeekWire reported that Gigabit Squared — which had contracted to build a super fast high-speed network in parts of Seattle — had failed to pay the City an overdue bill of $52,250.
That figure was significant given the multi-million dollar cost of building out a fiber-optic network in the city, a high-profile plan touted by former Mayor Mike McGinn that has since been scrapped.
Ansboury told GeekWire last month that he was no longer operating as president, instead shifting to a general manager role. But now he’s giving up that position as well and ending all affiliations with the company, according to a statement that he’s provided to GeekWire and GigaOm.
I am no longer with GB2. I am resigning over strategic differences and am pursing other projects. You can reach out to Matt Weiland for comment. Their intent is to pay. Other than that I cannot comment.
Asked to comment further, Ansboury told GeekWire: “I will talk to you in 30 days.” We’ve also reached out to Gigabit Squared spokesman Weiland for comment.
Announcing the project with then-Mayor McGinn in December 2012, representatives of Gigabit Squared said Seattle would be one of the first cities to take part in its broader $200 million program to bring high-speed broadband Internet access to communities around the country. But Gigabit Squared officials informed the city in November 2013 that they hadn’t been able to raise the funding as expected — leaving the project in limbo and presumed dead by many in the city.
Newly-elected Seattle Mayor Ed Murray told The Puget Sound Business Journal that the city has decided to scrap the Gigabit Squared project altogether. We’ve reached out to the Mayor’s office for comment about the project, and we’ll update this post as we hear more.
UPDATE: Mayor Murray just posted a blog post on the Gigabit Squared issue, noting that “The City is now at a crossroads and a new fiber strategy needs to be, and will be, explored.” He said the goal of bringing fiber to the home is “not dead” but has just “encountered a speed bump along the way.”
“It was going to be a pretty heavily lift for (Gigabit Squared) to pull this off,” City of Seattle CTO Erin Devoto told GeekWire last week. “It would be a heavy lift for anybody. None of this is easy, and there’s a reason why people aren’t just doing this all over the place.”
Meanwhile, Sandra Guy at ChicagoGrid reports that Gigabit Squared’s plans to deliver high-speed Internet in parts of south Chicago are up in the air, and that community members there are growing frustrated. And Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOm notes that Gig.U, an entity affiliated with Gigabit Squared, is attempting to distance itself from “implosion,” providing a statement that says they were not “party to any transactions related to such deployments.”
Ed Lazowska, the University of Washington computer science professor who has advocated for broadband initiatives in the state, said the news of Gigabit Squared’s demise in Seattle is a tough pill to swallow.
“I worry that this will set us back a long way,” said Lazowska, who did not play a role in the selection of Gigabit Squared. “Seattle simply cannot live with Comcast and NexTel as its broadband providers. And others, like CondoInternet, are cream-skimming vs. deploying widely.”