Tag Archives: broadstripe

Mayor follows up on town hall questions

Mayor McGinn at the Beacon Hill Town Hall at Jefferson Community Center on February 15. Photo courtesy City of Seattle.
Mayor Mike McGinn this week sent out a follow-up email addressing unanswered questions that were brought up at the February 15 town hall meeting at Jefferson Community Center. Topics addressed include broadband access, future use of the closed Neighborhood Service Center, a possible Alcohol Impact Area on North Beacon Hill, and the SeaTac flight paths overhead.

There were some questions raised that we weren’t able to address that night; here they are, along with our answers:

1. What power does the City have to regulate Broadstripe and other broadband providers? The City of Seattle regulates cable television service for Seattle residents, and we also own the physical conduits through which the cables that provide that service travel, but the Federal Communications Commission has restricted the ability of cities like ours to regulate internet service providers. Where we do have power is in our contract negotiations with these companies. Our next opportunity to renegotiate our cable contract with Broadstripe will be in 2017. They have little capacity for significant service improvements, as they are now in bankruptcy (although still complying with the contract). The last contract renewal led the Department of Information Technology to look into creating a city-wide fiber-optic network in the first place. We know that there’s a huge need for faster and more reliable Internet access across the city, and that’s why we’re working on a business plan for municipal broadband.

2. Can members of the community use the old Neighborhood Service Center site as a volunteer-run community information center? The different departments involved are still discussing how to use the space going forward, and no decisions have been made so far. In the meantime, Department of Neighborhoods staff are using the space on a drop-in basis, and community groups can also make use of other meeting rooms in the library.

3. What will it take to make Beacon Hill an Alcohol Impact Area? As Captain Nolan and I mentioned on the 15th, the designation of an Alcohol Impact Area is something that’s done by the Washington State Liquor Control Board. More information about the designation process can be found here; links to studies of the effectiveness of AIA’s are here; and information about the processes that the City went through specifically in 2004-2006 are available here.

4. Is there anything that the City can do about flight paths going into and out of SeaTac? The Federal Aviation Administration regulates flight paths; the City, County, and Port don’t have direct regulatory authority over the airspace around the airport, but the FAA has been receptive to community input in the past. The Magnolia Community Club, for example, had a recent success when the FAA decided not to lower the level at which aircraft would be allowed to fly over Seattle neighborhoods. There will be an opportunity for the public to comment on the FAA’s Next Gen initiative, which will include re-evaluating flight plans that affect SeaTac and Boeing Field. Please E-mail me directly with your comments and concerns regarding flight paths over Beacon Hill, and I’ll be sure that we pass them along to the FAA. For more information about the Magnolia Community Club’s efforts, please contact Robert Bismuth at AirportNorth@gmail.com or 206-941-1923.

I hope the information in this E-mail is helpful; if you have input on how to improve our Town Hall follow-up going forward, feel free to contact Sol Villarreal in my office at sol.villarreal@seattle.gov or 206-427-3062.

For other opportunities to talk to myself or other City staff in your community please see our Public Outreach and Engagement Calendar at http://seattle.gov/engage/access.htm, and as always, please write to me with any questions, comments, or concerns that you have at mike.mcginn@seattle.gov.

It’s an honor to be able to serve as your Mayor; I’ll look forward to seeing you again soon.

Mike McGinn

(You can read a compilation of the February 15 town hall discussion here and see complete video of the event here.)

Internet and cable problems to be discussed at UPTUN meeting 3/7

City Councilmember Bruce Harrell is one of the panelists at next week's UPTUN meeting at Beacon Lutheran Church. Photo courtesy of Seattle City Council.
Next Monday, March 7, UPTUN (Upgrading Technology for Underserved Neighbors) holds their quarterly meeting on Beacon Hill, “Nightmares and Opportunities: Broadstripe and City Underserving Neighbors.” UPTUN is a group of Seattle neighbors who are working on improving internet and cable service in underserved areas such as Beacon Hill, the Central District, Leschi, and parts of Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, and Pioneer Square.

Panelists at the meeting will include Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Council; Bill Schrier, Chief Technology Officer, City of Seattle; and Henry W. McGee, Jr., Seattle University School of Law. Neighbors in underserved neighborhoods are urged to attend, and the public is welcome. Citizens will be able to submit concerns during the meeting as well as on the UPTUN website.

The meeting is on Monday, March 7, from 7 until 8:30 p.m. at Beacon Lutheran Church, 1720 South Forest Street.

Broadstripe issues resurgent

A flood of messages on the BAN and Beacon Hill neighborhood mailing lists this weekend appear to indicate that over the last several days, widespread connectivity and bandwidth issues have been affecting Broadstripe customers on the hill.

Some neighbors have observed significant packet loss, an issue that has a definite negative effect on data throughput. At 13th and Atlantic, Kevin D. noted when using the pingtest.net website that he was “getting 7% and 8% packet loss regularly. Upwards of 28-31% packet loss as the worst case.”

Amy K., having attended last week’s UPTUN meeting, recommends some people to contact with complaints:

Please send your complaints to Broadstripe and City of Seattle as listed below.

Seattle office: (800) 781-0947
(Monday-Friday) 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. PST
(Saturday) 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. PST
John Bjorn: jbjorn@broadstripe.com

City of Seattle:
Office of Cable Communications – http://www.seattle.gov/cable/
Tony Perez: tony.perez@seattle.gov

Residents in Mid- and South Beacon Hill have Qwest DSL options. Most of North Beacon is too far from a “central office” to get adequate DSL service. Clear wireless internet is available throughout the hill, but many residents find it difficult to get adequate reception quality.

(We, too, are Broadstripe internet customers located near Beacon Ave and South Stevens. Our most recent tests at 8:30 pm show 9 Mbit/sec downloads and 2 Mbit/sec uploads via speedtest.net — we’d love to know what your speeds are like and where. Please give it a try yourself and note your results in the comments.)

Beacon Bits: Internet outages, slow traffic, and health inspections

(We apologize for some delay in getting this posted. Our internet was down for a bit. Oddly, it went down just as I was preparing the story below.)

Neighbor Sebastian in North Beacon writes that he’s been having some Broadstripe trouble lately:

I’ve been having intermittent to complete Internet outages for 24 days, starting on 7/30. Cable TV has been out since 8/19. I’ve called Broadstripe 20+ times to ask for updates and for someone to investigate their Network issues with less than satisfactory responses. During a third service call on 8/19/2010, a Broadstripe technician finally discovered that the source of the problem is with Broadstripe’s network and not with the equipment inside my house. Unfortunately the issue still hasn’t been resolved and my Internet and Cable TV still aren’t working.

…I’m curious if anyone else has been having issues with their Broadstripe Internet and Cable TV service? I’m getting tired of dealing with an incompotent service provider and I’m wondering if anyone has had any luck dealing with them?

Anyone else having these problems with their cable lately? And does anyone have any suggestions for Sebastian?

(Editor’s note, 5:28 pm: Sebastian tells us his service is up and working again. How about the rest of you?)

* * *

Like Beacon Hill internet service, traffic on Rainier Avenue South will also be moving slowly for a while. Southbound traffic on Rainier will be reduced to one lane between South Forest Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way South around the clock until early September. Construction crews are upgrading drainage and electrical utilities in the roadway as part of the Rainier Transit Priority Corridor Improvements Project to create a better waiting environment for bus passengers, improve travel time for buses, and improve parking conditions for automobiles. You can read more about it here.

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“Home to some of the very best views of downtown Seatown, it’s shocking that sleepy Beacon Hill is often overlooked, said Yelp’s “Neighborhood Spotlight” feature last week. The article touts our library as “stunning,” our cuisine as “out of this world,” and concludes that there are “so many reasons to buzz about this ’hood!” Read it here.

* * *

Speaking of our cuisine, certain local establishments received their periodic visits from the Health Department. El Centro de la Raza, Dim Sum House, Elegant Gourmet Catering, Em Engo Beacon Grocery/BBQ Deli, Golden Daisy Restaurant, Holly Park Head Start Center, Jefferson Community Center, Sharon’s Lutong Bahay, and La Bendicion all saw the inspector in the last few weeks.

Congratulations to Holly Park Head Start Center, Jefferson Community Center, and Sharon’s Lutong Bahay who all had perfect scores of zero!

Click on the establishments’ names above to see the reports of each place’s inspection. Please note that having some violation points does not necessarily mean an establishment has a serious problem. It is common for even good establishments to get some violation points now and then. The type and number of the points are what matters. Here is some more information about the Food Protection Program.

Meet Broadstripe with UPTUN this Thursday

Seattle Broadstripe customers, many of whom are on Beacon Hill, are encouraged to attend the second quarterly meeting between Broadstripe, the City of Seattle Department of Technology, and volunteer community group Upping Technology for Underserved Neighbors (UPTUN) this Thursday, June 24th, from 5:30 to 7:00 PM in the Bank of America Conference Room at Promenade Plaza, 23rd and Jackson.

UPTUN contends that Broadstripe services for customers in their franchise area are priced higher and are of lower quality than those offered by their competitors servicing other neighborhoods. (We imagine this is an opinion held by many neighbors.) UPTUN also describes a few less-direct effects that poor cable and broadband service has on a neighborhood: Tenants don’t want to lease and condo buyers don’t want to purchase when they find out they must use Broadstripe, negatively affecting vacancy rates; telecommuters and home businesses cannot count on Broadstripe to do their work; substandard services provided by the city and Broadstripe reinforce perceptions and stereotypes that the afflicted neighborhoods are of lesser value than others; and poor service through Broadstripe not only discourages families from moving in, but also provides an incentive to leave the neighborhood.

UPTUN’s quarterly meetings are held to ensure the improvements promised in the 2010 Work Plan are completed, and completed on-schedule.

Contact tracyb@uptun.org for more information.

Connecting: Broadstripe contract at UTUC, Schrier on FCC plan

(Editor’s note, March 25: The meeting discussed in this post has been CANCELLED.)

A reminder about the UTUC broadband Community Forum coming up on Thursday where Broadstripe’s city-granted monopoly franchise agreement will be a major point of discussion.

Scheduled speakers include City of Seattle Chief Technology Officer Bill Schrier and Broadstripe’s recently appointed Northwest General Manager David Irons.

Your presence will help drive the City of Seattle and Broadstripe to improve the way the current franchise agreement is handled. Sponsored by Upgrade Technology for Underserved Neighbors, all are invited and especially neighbors living in the underserved areas: Central District, Beacon Hill, Leschi, parts of Capitol Hill. We will review the 2010 Work Plan to ensure internet and cable service delivery improves as promised.

Thursday, March 25th, 5:30-7pm at the Central Area Senior Center, 500 30th Ave South. Refreshments will be served courtesy of the Central Area Development Association.

UTUN brings together neighbors from multiple south Seattle neighborhoods to advocate for immediate improvement to substandard cable and internet services. For more information about the forum or to get email updates, contact Tracy Bier at 206-227-2369 or atbier@msn.com.

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Speaking of City CTO Bill Schrier, his recent blog posting on the FCC’s broadband plan is good reading and answers these questions and more:

  • Is this plan really radical or different?
  • What does 100 megabit service really mean for consumers at home or small business?
  • What are the implications for large cities like Seattle?
  • Practically, why do we need a public safety wireless broadband network?

[T]he FCC’s plan is visionary. Certainly it was carefully crafted with many competing interests interests in mind. And it doesn’t really provide any good mechanism to encourage competition between private providers. Such competition would reduce costs to users. Nevertheless, if it is followed, will materially improve the economy, safety, and quality of life for the people of the United States.

Read it on Schrier’s blog.

Connecting: City-run network, Broadstripe speeds, Google

CDNews introduces a proposed $450 million city-run broadband system that could be financed through municipal revenue bonds issued against future subscriptions with initial service starting in just 18 months, expanding city-wide in 3 to 4 years.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Seattle had decided that the city could step in and provide what private industry was failing at. In 1900, the privately owned Seattle Electric Company provided power to residences and businesses across the city. But at $.20 per kilowatt-hour, it was expensive – several times more expensive than today. In inflation-adjusted terms, those rates would make your typical $75 electric bill in 2010 skyrocket up to $4,000.

So in 1902 city voters decided to allow the city to issue bonds to start a municipal electric system, and today we have Seattle City Light, which provides some of the lowest electric rates across the nation.

* * *

Also via CDNews, Broadstripe General Manager David Irons says “you should be getting at least 10 megabits [per second] right now. If you’re not, give us a call” at 800-829-CABL.

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City requests your input on Google Ultra-High Speed Broadband details ways in which you can help Seattle be included in Google’s gigabit fiber-to-the-home pilot programCapitol Hill Seattle

Connecting: Learn from Lafayette, expand fiber, spur Broadstripe

Fiber optic bundles. Photo by pasukaru76.
Glenn Fleishman continues to dig into internet access issues at Publicola with another excellent article on municipal fiber and lessons learned from Lafayette, Louisiana.

* * *

Reclaim the Media, the Northwest Media Action Grassroots Network, and the Hidmo Community Empowerment Project are cohosting a community meeting on fiber broadband on Wednesday, March 3rd, from 5:30 to 7:30pm at Garfield Community Center, 2323 East Cherry Street.

Speakers will include: Malkia Cyril from Oakland’s Center for Media Justice, Tony Perez from the City of Seattle Department of Information Technology, local business owner Andre Helmstetter, Scott Durham from Central District News and David Irons of Broadstripe.

More details at CDNews.

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$84 million grant to expand Internet in Washington “The expansion will add 57 libraries, 22 government facilities, 38 medical centers, two tribal service centers and four community colleges.” — Seattle P-I

* * *

Upgrade Technology for Underserved Neighbors (UTUN), a Southeast and Central Seattle neighbor group, has formed to advance internet access in our part of the city. They’ve met often with the City of Seattle and Broadstripe to work out a plan to improving service to residents in Beacon Hill, Judkins Park, Leschi, and the Central District.

Expect an online survey coming soon and a Community Forum with Broadstripe and the City of Seattle representatives Thursday, March 25th at 5:30 at the Central Area Senior Center
(500 30th Ave S) where they will be presenting an update to neighbors about their latest improvements.

For more information and to keep up-to-date with UTUN activities, contact Tracy Bier via atbier@msn.com or 206-227-2369. Previously.

Help advance neighborhood internet access

Update: This becomes even more timely and relevant with Google’s announced gigabit fiber-to-the-home trial plans announced today. Some additional coverage at Ars Technica. Please visit Google’s Request for information site and nominate Beacon Hill, specifically, and southeast Seattle generally, for this project. Thanks to Yifan for pointing to this in the comments!

Do you have substandard internet service from Broadstripe and want to help steer the development of our internet infrastructure? Tracy Bier contacted us hoping to find some folks from Beacon Hill to join a coalition of neighbors from several south-and-central Seattle neighborhoods working to move our access options forward:

Neighbors from Capitol Hill, Central District and Leschi have formed a group to advocate for improved internet and cable service in areas bound by a many-year-old franchise agreement between the Broadstripe company and the City of Seattle.

To balance the geographic representation of our team of volunteers, we urgently seek a neighbor from the Beacon Hill area who experiences the negative effects of below standard service from Broadstripe. We are also seeking a volunteer with legal experience in the technology field or a person familiar with fiber optic technology.

We know you are busy, nobody needs another volunteer pursuit but you might get some satisfaction from working with us. We are moving quickly on this, especially with the new mayor in place.

If you are interested in lending a hand, contact Tracy via email at atbier@msn.com or telephone: 206-322-8613.

Publicola interview with Broadstripe GM David Irons

Continuing to dig into the issue of (the lack of decent) broadband in the Central District and Beacon Hill, Glenn Fleishman at Publicola sits down with former King County Executive candidate and new Broadstripe Pacific Northwest General Manager David Irons.

A few highlights:

Of the 23 nodes in Seattle, “We have made significant electronic improvement to resolve the issues in 18 of them,” with the rest proving more problematic and requiring new cable runs or other changes. Irons said the remaining five nodes will be improved between February and March 2010.

Irons explains, “Just on a routine basis, we had our technicians going out and arriving at someone’s home, okay, you have a problem there,” then checking it off and leaving. Now, a technician “is not allowed to leave the person’s home until the problem is resolved, or they have permission from their supervisor.”

Customer service hours have been extended from 7 pm Pacific on weekdays to 9 pm Pacific, and in January that will go to 10 pm Pacific. Weekend customer support has been replaced with full-on tech support, with staff that can handle both billing and technical questions. Engineers are now on call for major problems 24 hours a day, as well.

These sound like good changes, and I do have to say that our internet connection at home has been better than it was in September, but it’s still nothing to be bragging about.

Irons also states that Broadstripe has 8 open positions they’re looking to fill.

Broadstripe is expected to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the first quarter of 2010.

There’s lots more interesting information in the full article at Publicola.