Gigabit Squared's Mark Ansboury
Gigabit Squared’s Mark Ansboury

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.”

Comments

  • Cameron Newland

    The city really should’ve worked with CondoInternet, Centurylink, and Comcast in the first place instead of some overhyped, out-of-town firm. I usually wait to lay blame, but I think that the city and anyone involved in choosing GB2 really is to blame here, and that the writing has been on the wall for some time.

    • Viet Nguyen

      100% right on target.

    • Tess

      Does Comcast even want to run fiber themselves? It seems like they’ve been more interested in killing competing fiber initiatives nationally without committing to major builds themselves so they can keep profiting from their current infrastructure.

      • Cameron Newland

        Comcast has one of the largest fiber networks in Washington State, it’s just that they use DOCSIS 3.0 cable as their last mile solution, as it nearly matches the speed of fiber but uses cheaper existing infrastructure (DOCSIS 3.0 with 8 downstream channels can hit 343 Mbit/second). Is Comcast against fiber? Yes and no. They’d only be against it if it means that they’d have to pay tons of money out of their own pocket to run fiber to the premises. That can easily cost thousands of dollars per install.

        If you look at other players like CondoInternet.net, they are almost exclusively using fiber, and that is commendable, however, at this point it appears that it wouldn’t be financially feasible for them to run fiber to single-family homes.

        • kenn213

          Actually Comcast thinks Americans don’t need gigabit internet. I’m glad the cable company knows my needs so well…

          http://www.theverge.com/2013/6/6/4400382/comcast-google-fiber-gigabit-broadband-internet

          • Cameron Newland

            And they’re right. The only high speed application that people run on their home broadband internet connections today is streaming video, and you don’t need any more than 10Mb/second for that. What’s the allure of gigabit internet when you’ll never use more than a small fraction of the bandwidth?

          • didibus

            Web Browsing would be way faster. Web page would load faster, images would load faster, downloads would be way shorter.

    • poldim

      Work with comcast? Are you kidding? The last thing they want to do is offer a fast service at a low price. Much of the EU has faster service at much lower costs. Look wider at the world: http://newamerica.net/publications/policy/the_cost_of_connectivity_2013 – every single international city beat us at the triple play offer, I personally know friends in France that love their service for sub 40$ range.

      Sonic.net has a FTTH roll out in SF with gigabit speeds, and webpass offers 100 Mbps for sub $40 bucks, while my 40 Mbps Comcast connection is $64.

      • tryingtocalmdown

        but does the $40/month your French friends pay actually cover the cost of building and operating the service or is it subsidized via other taxes for fees?

    • That Guy

      We’ll never explicitly be told this, but my bet is that GB2 was never anything other than an astroturf operation for rent to this or that urban politician interested in spouting off some geek b.s. in hopes of scamming some votes here and there.

      I actually know a thing or four about how all this stuff works, and the foolishness (or astroturf -ery) of the geeks in this and other comment threads makes me think that everything I’ve read about the vacuous nature of Microsofties is, if anything, grossly understated.

  • http://blog.findwell.com Kevin Lisota

    Seattle seems to average ~10 years to make any major infrastructure decisions anyway, so maybe by 2025 or so we’ll be able to finally use that fiber and get some modern internet speeds.

    • Viet Nguyen

      Sadly, under the McGinn administration, the city basically held up permitting from CenturyLink, with some outdated rules involving telecom cabinets in the right of way. Ed Murray seems much more sensible and will hopefully move more quickly in eliminating some of these ridiculous barriers. http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/centurylink-says-city-rule-putting-seattle-behind-/nYD6b/

    • That Guy

      You don’t know WTF you’re talking about, like the rest of the yuppie tech geeks around here who sucked up to McGinn a year ago.

  • http://sitetherapy.net/ rick gregory

    Remember McGinn making lots of noise about how Murray was the Comcast candidate and his GBS plan was the future? And how every single media outlet parroted that story? Why did no one dig into GBS and the status of their project here? I mean, they could NOT have been in a good, healthy spot right before the election and then all of a sudden collapsed.

    • That Guy

      I believe the whole thing was classic astroturfing. We’ll never prove it, but the level of vaporware on this one beat anything I ever saw out of Microsoft, which is saying a lot.

  • Jayson

    Or how about do as done in the early phone days … the city lays the lines down THEN sells/leases to a corporate entity to run and both makes profits.

    Making the corporations to do the backbone work just makes them not do it period and all of us, the customers, never get the benefit.

    • John

      that is actually not how it worked in the early phone days… That being said the issue here is last mile, to the homes, that is where the cost is.

      • Jayson

        With the massive profits, that last mile is negligible now.

        • That Guy

          You don’t know WTF you are talking about.

    • Cameron Newland

      The corporations do run the backbones, and they’re operating very fast, thank you very much.

      Comcast Xfinity provides 50MB internet service for less than $50/month. What’s wrong with that? Internet speed in the Seattle area is really good!

      • Jayson

        Who’s investing in even faster and better speeds (fibre)? Just google and the big guys in the markets Google jumps in to keep in the game. Not nationwide rollout plan but following Googles lead.
        We will never see increased speeds and lower costs until more competition comes on to the scene. Exclusivity never works for anyone but that guy at the top in the glass office.
        Good for Comcast, they can do a hell lot better with their massive profits just as much as the other guys (Verizon, AT&T etc)

      • http://sitetherapy.net/ rick gregory

        Er… no, Comcast does NOT provide 50m for under $50/month. The 50m service is $75, the 25m service is $65. Can you get the internet service for less? In the sense that you can bundle TV, yes (adding the TV is cheaper than both programs if bought separately), but the actual monthly cost is higher. If you just want internet service from them the only $50 option is 6m.

      • That Guy

        Comcast provides 5Mbps service at my house.

      • Delta

        Yes, but then you have to interact with Comcast. I will happily pay more for a provider that can give me comparable speeds with better customer service.

      • Josh

        As recently as December I was paying Comcast just over $86/month for 20mbit service in Seattle. I do not believe there is a 50mbit service for $50. If there is, it’s bundled with TV as stated above or is a six month promotional deal. It sounds as if you work for Comcast.

  • poldim
  • Avdecha

    Comcast and Century Link are only interested in what they can make you pay, minus the cost of providing your service. Your satisfaction has little value, because you have no good options. Poor service or no service is only of concern to them if it will cost too much in lost revenue. Hostage-taking, in the form of high prices and bundling is rewarded under the current scheme.
    If the city was your service provider, the primary “revenue” at stake would be your vote, and every voter has only one (hopefully). Prices would be lower and choices would be greater, because your satisfaction would matter. And access to high-speed internet would become a matter of public policy, rather than exclusively one of location or economic status.

    • That Guy

      Idiot, go look at the speeds and prices in Tacoma, and then get back to us.

  • tryingtocalmdown

    these “public-private” deals on broadband almost always go sour. Cannot think of one that works, except maybe NOANet out in central and eastern WA. Either the municipality needs to go do it and do it right, which means very expensive and that citizens have to pay for it like a utility–meaning monthly bills that will inevitably go up over time. Or, provide enough real incentive for private providers to get the last mile (or last couple hundred yards) done. It ain’t cheap and FTTH, while obviously a great technology, is maybe not the best way to go if universal access is the desire.

  • 4filter

    Wait is Lazowska blaming condo internet for only deploying where their customers are. Don’t most businesses any kind of business , do that?

  • biff777

    After living in New England before the Northwest and seeing how there is no real Canadian broadcasting still here, i know it deals in marketing only. We get programs in Spanish, but nothing from directly across the northern border still. Calgary even gets Spokane. Spokane with even “platinum” just 2 PBS stations from Canada. New England in the early 70’s already there.

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