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City of Seattle broadband speed map.
City of Seattle broadband speed map.

The City of Seattle has announced an online broadband speed test that will create a map of internet speeds and prices across different Seattle neighborhoods. Using the map, city residents will be able compare their Internet plans to their neighbors’ plans. The map will be available online at the end of this month, once the city collects enough initial data.

The broadband speed test and map were created by volunteer local developers, including software engineers from Open Seattle, and are meant to help citizens pick the right Internet providers by providing more transparency about Internet plans, said Seattle chief technology officer Michael Mattmiller in an interview with KING 5 News.

City of Seattle CTO Michael Mattmiller at CES 2016. (GeekWire File Photo.)
City of Seattle CTO Michael Mattmiller at CES 2016. (GeekWire File Photo.)

When someone enters information into the city’s broadband speed test site, Internet speed and price are plotted within a six-block radius to protect identity. This means that the Internet speed map does not show individual houses, but instead shows neighborhood trends. (And perhaps not knowing exactly how much better the people next door have it is a good thing for maintaining neighborly relations.)

The city anticipates that the map will spur neighbors to switch providers to get faster or cheaper service based on information from the homes around them. Furthermore, the city hopes that the broadband map will motivate the different Internet companies in town to offer more competitive deals once citizens can see exactly what they’re paying and what they’re getting in comparison to their neighbors.

Some broadband providers have already expressed interest in working with the city on the project, including CenturyLink and Comcast.

“We can let people know of their competitive options,” Mattmiller said. “If your provider isn’t meeting your needs, we have more available in the city.”

Of course, poor service from an Internet provider isn’t always the issue when the internet runs slow. The city was quick to note that the individual setup within a home should be checked before the pitchforks come out to ensure that no other factors are affecting a home’s Internet speeds.

Mattmiller said the city hopes its new online broadband speed test and map will become tools in providing equal Internet access for all, by giving users comparative data about their Internet plans and empowering them switch to better options.

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