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Gigabit Squared heading high-speed fiber and wireless internet initiative in Seattle

Gigabit Squared heading high-speed fiber and wireless internet initiative in Seattle
Jamie Rigg
Jamie Rigg|@jmerigg|December 14, 2012 12:22 PM

Seattle may have lost its high-velocity hoops team, but that doesn't mean it's satisfied with anything but speedy internet. The city has come to an agreement with Gigabit Squared (GB2) to build an unnecessarily wordy "fiber-to-the-home/fiber-to-the-business broadband network." With the University of Washington taking care of "community leadership" (as part of the Gig. U initiative), GB2 plans to utilize Seattle 's excess fiber infrastructure, and create more, to deliver new internet options in three ways. In addition to the wired fiber network, the Gigabit Seattle project sees the development of a "dedicated gigabit broadband wireless umbrella" for beaming up to 1 Gbps from radio transmitters to others in direct view, as well as municipal WiFi-like services.

At this stage, only 12 "demonstration" areas are earmarked in the proposal, although the radio-based wireless "umbrella" has the potential to extend that coverage. Gigabit Squared now needs to find the cash to get going if it wants to meet the distant operational target of "year-end 2014." It's worth remembering that plenty of city-wide internet initiatives have failed before this one, and only a Memorandum of Understanding and a Letter of Intent have been signed by all the involved parties -- agreements which aren't necessarily binding. Full details of the plan are available in PR form and at the source link below, or if you're done with prose, a map of the 12 demo neighborhoods hopefully getting hooked up can be found after the break.

[Thanks, Gavin]

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Plan begins with demonstration fiber project in 12 Seattle neighborhoods

SEATTLE (December 13, 2012) – Today Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced that the City of Seattle has reached an agreement with broadband developer Gigabit Squared to develop and operate an ultra high-speed fiber-to-the-home/fiber-to-the-business broadband network. The plan will begin with a demonstration fiber project in twelve Seattle neighborhoods and includes wireless methods to deploy services more quickly to other areas in the city. The initiative, leveraging the City of Seattle's excess fiber capacity, the expertise of Gigabit Squared, and the community leadership of The University of Washington, aims to stimulate business opportunities, spur advancements in health care, education, and public safety, and enhance quality of life for the residents and businesses of Seattle.

"This is a very promising proposal that can help bring 21st century infrastructure to Seattle," said McGinn. "I've heard from residents and businesses that Seattle needs better broadband service, and this agreement lays the groundwork for building that network. I'm excited to work with the University of Washington and Gigabit Squared to provide new Internet service choices."

The City, the University and Gigabit Squared have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and a Letter of Intent that allows Gigabit Squared to begin raising the capital needed to conduct engineering work and to build out the demonstration fiber network. The project is the second city project announced by Gigabit Squared as part of its multi-million dollar Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program. Gigabit Squared will collaborate with the City of Seattle and the University of Washington to initiate a process for sharing information and soliciting input on the project from members of the affected communities.

"The UW, the City of Seattle and Gigabit Squared are working together to make Seattle the most wired and connected city in the nation and to continue its role as a major leader in the innovation economy of the 21stcentury," said University of Washington President Michael Young. "This new level of high-speed connectivity will provide essential infrastructure to help us address some of our biggest problems in the areas of climate, the environment, education, energy, and transportation. It's definitely a game-changer, and we are delighted to be one of the driving forces in making this a reality."

The network, called Gigabit Seattle (www.gigabitseattle.com) includes three pieces: Fiber directly to the home and business in twelve demonstration neighborhoods, dedicated gigabit broadband wireless connections to multifamily housing and offices across Seattle, and next generation mobile wireless internet.

1) Fiber to the home and business: Gigabit Seattle plans to build out a fiber-to-the-home/fiber-to-the-business (FTTH/FTTB) network to more than 50,000 households and businesses in 12 demonstration neighborhoods, connected together with the excess capacity that Gigabit Seattle will lease from the City's own fiber network. Gigabit Seattle's technology intends to offer gigabit speeds that are up to 1,000 times faster than the typical high-speed connection.

The initial 12 neighborhoods include: Area 1: the University of Washington's West Campus District, Area 2: South Lake Union, Area 3: First Hill/Capitol Hill/Central Area, Area 4: the University of Washington's Metropolitan Tract in downtown Seattle, Area 5: the University of Washington's Family Housing at Sand Point, Area 6: Northgate, Area 7: Volunteer Park Area, Area 8: Beacon Hill and SODO Light Rail Station and Areas 9-12: Mount Baker, Columbia City, Othello, and Rainier Beach.

2) Dedicated gigabit to multifamily housing and offices: To provide initial coverage beyond the 12 demonstration neighborhoods, Gigabit Seattle intends to build a dedicated gigabit broadband wireless umbrella to cover Seattle providing point-to-point radio access up to one gigabit per second. This will be achieved by placing fiber transmitters on top of 38 buildings across Seattle. These transmitters can beam fiber internet to multifamily housing and offices across Seattle, even those outside the twelve demonstration neighborhoods, as long as they are in a line of sight. Internet service would be delivered to individual units within a building through existing wiring. This wireless coverage can provide network and Internet services to customers that do not have immediate access to fiber in the city.

3) Next generation mobile wireless internet: Gigabit Seattle will provide next generation wireless cloud services in its 12 neighborhoods to provide customers with mobile access.

The fiber network, the gigabit dedicated wireless connections, and wireless cloud services neighborhoods will together provide broadband wired and wireless network and Internet services, giving Seattle customers new choices.

"Seattle and its spirit of entrepreneurship, community advancement, innovation and invention make it the ideal City for this exciting initiative," said Mark Ansboury, president of Gigabit Squared. "Bringing the City of Seattle, the University of Washington, individual neighborhoods, as well as Gigabit Squared and our investors together, we're able to do what none of us could do individually – build a platform for economic development and business creation."

This is the first demonstration project of Gigabit Squared's Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program (GNGP), which will bring other projects like this to promote gigabit network innovation in six selected university communities across the country. The $200 million broadband program was developed in partnership with The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project (Gig.U).

"This exciting public-private partnership serves as an example to communities all over the world of how universities and their local stakeholders can collaborate to drive economic opportunities by putting private investment to work alongside public capital," said Blair Levin, Executive Director of Gig.U. "We're thrilled to see our Gig.U member, University of Washington, at the center of this innovative initiative to help Seattle communities benefit from the advanced applications and services accelerating the meaningful use of this gigabit speed network. Congratulations to all involved in the Seattle Broadband Initiative in developing this world-class fiber network that will support not only today's needs, but foster innovation and serve the research and community development needs of tomorrow."

Gigabit Squared heading high-speed fiber and wireless internet initiative in Seattle