Seattle-Gigabit partnership going dark?

The City has no contract in place with the broadband provider, which was expected to provide faster Internet service in many neighborhoods.
Crosscut archive image.

Mike McGinn, at an interview with Crosscut writers and editors

The City has no contract in place with the broadband provider, which was expected to provide faster Internet service in many neighborhoods.

For a company touted as the upstart provider of Seattle's next era of high-speed internet service, the faltering Gigabit Squared is having some serious connectivity issues.

The company's troubles could mean that Seattle neighborhoods will have a long wait before any promised broadband service is delivered, which likely would have to come through some entirely new arrangement. reported late Monday that the City of Seattle's much anticipated year-long plan to bring high-speed internet service in a dozen Seattle neighborhoods has been delayed due to financing problems encountered by the broadband service provider Gigabit Squared. The plan revolved around using the city's own excess fiber-optic cable capacity to allow Gigabit Squared to sell ultra-fast service to individuals and businesses. In an interview, Mayor Mike McGinn acknowledged there were delays and expressed concern about the entire project.

Despite heavy promotion of the project by the city, the mayor and Gigabit for more than a year, there is no contract actually in place and negotiations on the contract were repeatedly delayed, Crosscut has learned.

Department of Information Technology spokersperson Megan Coppersmith says, "We don't have a final contract with Gigabit." She said that the negotiating process has slowed down but added, that there was no rush for the contract, as the city had a memorandum of understanding in place with Gigabit.

The memorandum released to Crosscut does not require Gigabit to meet specific performance targets or achieve any specific funding or scheduling milestones.

The city's chief technology officer, Erin DeVoto, heard the news about the company's failure to secure financing from Mark Ansboury, president of Gigabit Squared, according to Coppersmith. The revelation came "during a conference call with the other partners in mid-November," Coppersmith said. "This conference call was initiated after GB2 had cancelled several status meetings." The city made no apparent announcement about the project's delay before McGinn's mention of the problem to GeekWire.

The IT Department does have limited engineering agreements in place with five other companies that responded to the city's Requests for Information (RFI) about providing high speed internet connectivity. Those companies were among the 13 that responded to two RFI's the city issued on the project. Such agreements are largely technical, and allow for the exchange of information so that project bidders can provide detailed response to requests for proposals. Those five companies are Cascade Networks of Longview, Spectrum Networks, Level 3 Communications, Stratuscore and Philips Electronics.

Efforts to determine the status of Gigabit's business today were unsuccessful. In response to an email, a company spokesman wrote, "Our apologies, no one from Gigabit Squared is available to comment at this time." Calls to the company's three different office telephone numbers in Cincinnati, Chicago and Seattle all received a recording saying, "This number has been temporarily disabled." Tweets from the @GigabitSeattle, @GigabitSquared and @GigabitChicago Twitter accounts appear to have gone dormant from 63 to 186 days ago.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Matt A. Fikse

Matt A. Fikse

Matt Fikse-Verkerk (Twitter: @mattfikse) covered urban affairs, politics, tech, and business at Crosscut from 2009 to 2014. He lives in Seattle and works for a biotechnology firm in Redmond, WA.