Seattle group favors fiber

If Seattle wants a citywide broadband network to meet the future needs of its tech-savvy residents, fiber to the premise (FTTP), not wireless, is the answer, according to a group set up last year by the Seattle City Council.

In a recent report, the Task Force on Telecommunications Innovation states that wireless technologies can't meet the minimum speeds of 25 megabits/sec, which is necessary to deliver the two-way voice, data and video services that residents will expect in the future. But wireless could be a useful interim solution.

In the long term, the task force concluded, wireless will probably be used only as the mobile portion of the city network, or as part of a hybrid network.

The report also states that if Seattle wants this type of broadband infrastructure, the city government must lead the way. The task force surveyed private companies about their plans to provide this service, and none indicated they intended to do so.

Task force members recommended that the city build a broadband network to satisfy its governmental needs and set a goal of extending it to support the creation of an open network that would be available to the public.

However, the task force also said that, with 2015 as the target to introduce such a broadband network, nothing is off the table and the city should continue to explore technologies other than FTTP while continuing to explore ways of bringing incumbent telecommunications providers and other companies into the mix.

It recommended establishing a city Office of Broadband to oversee those activities and report annually on its progress to the mayor and city council.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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