by Mira Latoszek
Slow and unreliable internet service is a problem for many Beacon Hillers even though we live minutes from downtown Seattle and the headquarters of companies like Amazon and Microsoft. According to UPTUN (Upping Technology for Underserved Neighbors – an advocacy group for reliable cable and high-speed Internet at an affordable cost), Seattle’s permitting process for installing new broadband cabinets is part of the problem.
The process is slower and more restrictive than that of other cities, causing hold-ups or cancellation of several broadband upgrade projects planned for 2012 and 2013. Robert Kangas, a Beacon Hill neighbor and member of UPTUN, released a presentation comparing Seattle’s process with that of other cities. It’s worth reading if you wonder why your house is still stuck with 1.5 Mbps DSL.
In February, Bruce Harrell sent a letter expressing support for a broadband pilot project on Beacon Hill to the North Beacon Hill Council. The project would allow CenturyLink to deploy two fiber-to-the-node sites and provide homes near the sites with 80-100 megabits/second broadband speed before the end of 2013. If successful, the approach could be followed in other parts of Beacon Hill and Seattle.
On Wednesday, June 5th at 2PM, the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee of the Seattle City Council will discuss the proposal. The discussion will take place in the City Council Chambers at Seattle City Hall. The Committee will discuss the issue in its next scheduled meeting on June 19th and vote on whether or not to support it. If the proposal is approved by the committee, it will then move forward for review and approval by the whole Council. The agenda for the meeting is available here.
In addition, there will be a presentation and discussion of the pilot project tomorrow night (Tuesday, June 4) at the North Beacon Hill Council meeting at 7 p.m. at the Beacon Hill Library. Representatives from CenturyLink will present the details of the pilot project and be available to answer questions. Details of the two areas for the pilot can be viewed in this document.
Much depends on the support of the community. A number of Beacon Hill residents will attend the meeting on Wednesday to testify in support of the pilot project, but more support is needed. Please show your support by attending the meeting if you are available or by sending an email to Bruce Harrell (firstname.lastname@example.org) and other City Council members.