City of Seattle releases municipal broadband feasibility report

The City of Seattle today released the City of Seattle Fiber-to-the-Premises Feasibility Study, a feasibility study originally commissioned in December 2014 as part of Mayor Ed Murray’s three-part broadband internet strategy.

Read the report here.

“Broadband internet service is a necessity in the 21st century but many Seattle residents don’t have equal access,” said Michael Mattmiller, Chief Technology Officer for the City of Seattle. “This report builds on past studies and take a comprehensive look at whether the City could provide universal broadband service in today’s landscape that is affordable, competitive and equally accessible to everyone.”

In the study, the consultant examined the feasibility of a municipal broadband delivery model, focusing on:

  • Reviewing the financial feasibility of constructing and operating a municipal broadband network in Seattle;
  • Evaluating the services and applications that are most likely to be utilized over a high-capacity data network; and
  • Analyzing current market conditions to gauge consumer interest in a broadband service and the current offerings in the market place.

Less than estimated in previous studies, the report estimates a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) build out to cost $480 – $665 million. To cover these costs, market penetration at monthly service charge of $75 would need to exceed 40 percent, one of the highest take rates achieved by any other municipal broadband utility in the country.

Additional findings include:

  • The study found that the most feasible approach to constructing and operating a successful municipal broadband utility would be through a joint venture, where the City would work with a partner to create a service that allows the City to maintain its status as a technology leader and provide equity to the public.
  • The study looked into the impacts that service price changes, even as minimal as $5, would make on customer subscriber rate and city finances. With a smaller customer base or prices below a $75 monthly charge, financials deteriorate quickly and the City is exposed to significant potential losses. With a proposed service price increase of just $10, raising it to $85 per month, the study found customer interest fell significantly, also exposing the city to substantial risk.
  • Incumbents and competitors are moving into the market, offering high-speed and gigabit service to increasing number of customers.
  • More than 80 percent of respondents indicated that internet is an essential service, while 30 percent indicated that it is affordable.

Mayor Murray unveiled his three-step broadband approach in June 2014, which he has worked on continuously in that time to reduce regulatory barriers, explore public/private partnerships and examine municipal broadband. Read more here.

The City’s broadband study was performed by CTC Technology & Energy, an independent communications and engineering consulting firm with more than 25 years of experience. CTC was paid $180,000 to complete the study.


WAVE Broadband cable customers: We want to hear from you!


2016-6-3 Wave Broadband


Seattle’s cable franchise with WAVE expires in 2017.

We’re gathering community input as we prepare for negotiating the new franchise.

Join our first community meeting on the WAVE franchise renewal:

Monday, June 8, 2015
6 – 7:30 pm
Douglass-Truth Library
23rd & Yesler, Seattle, WA

Can’t make this meeting? There are other ways to share input:

telephone: 206-684-8498

For more information, visit

Literally Checking The Internet Out of the Library


In the beginning it was books, then audio, then video. Years later, downloads were available on your own device. Now, you can check the internet out of the Seattle Public Library. Not ‘check out’ as in connect online at the library. You can literally go to your Seattle Public Library branch, check out the internet and take it home with you.

The SPL Hot Spot, also known as the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot

The SPL Hot Spot, also known as the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot

Seattle Public Library is now offering the ‘SPL Hot Spot’ for you to check out and take home for 21 days at a time. You check it out just like you would a book, CD, DVD or any other library item.

Thanks to a $225,000 grant from Google, anyone with a Library card can now check out Wi-Fi hotspot devices to use at home for free.

“Broadband is becoming a necessity to be successful in today’s world,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “Whether applying for a job, completing a homework assignment or paying a bill, you need access to the Internet. Thanks to the Library’s partnership with Google, this new initiative will help hundreds of Seattle families check out their own Wi-Fi hotspot.”

There is a need. A 2014 city of Seattle Information Technology Access and Adoption report revealed that over 90,000 Seattle residents lacked Internet access at home. When household income dropped to under $20,000, approximately 57 percent reported having no access.

Borrowing the device is free. However, if you damage it or fail to return the hot spot, a $199 charge will be applied to your library account. You can return the hotspot to any Library location or book drop, just like other items. You must return the device with all the original packaging and accessories. Please fully charge the battery before you return the device.

The Seattle Public Library currently provides more than 800 Internet computers across 27 locations, which are heavily used. Each location also offers free Wi-Fi.

A Civic Cocktail Double Feature: City of SeattleTechnology and Movies

cityclublogo seattlechannellogo


Across the country, big cities are investing in technology to connect people, improve cities and make government more effective. Cities, including Seattle, are hosting hackathons, developing technology plans and innovating alongside entrepreneurs and startups. What makes Seattle unique in civic tech and what can we learn from other cities? Microsoft’s directors of technology and civic engagement/innovation in Boston, Cathy Wissink, and Chicago, Adam Hecktman, will join Rebecca Lovell, the city of Seattle’s startup liaison, to discuss how technology can power civic engagement and innovation.

May’s Civic Cocktail is a double feature. The second half is a one-on-one conversation with Seattle International Film Festival’s Artistic Director Carl Spence one week before SIFF kicks off. Spence will talk to host Joni Balter about the popular film festival and what to expect this year. Recognized as one of the top film festivals in North America, the Seattle International Film Festival (May 14 – June 7, 2015) is the largest, most highly attended film festival in the United States reaching more than 150,000 annually.

A panel of journalists will join the discussion: Crosscut’s Drew Atkins and Florangela Davila, Geekwire’s Monica Guzman, The Stranger’s Charles Mudede, Puget Sound Business Journal’s Emily Parkhurst and KIRO radio’s Tom Tangney

Civic Cocktail – presented by Seattle Channel, Seattle CityClub and Crosscut – offers a night of networking, civic conversation, Tom Douglas appetizers and a no-host bar.

If you can’t make it, you can watch the Civic Cocktail panels the day after on the Seattle Chanel. Watch past Civic Cocktails here.

We Have a Winner


It took hours and hours of coding and planning, but “Hackcessible” is the winner of the latest “Hack the Commute” competition.


A screenshot of Hackcessible.

Hackcessible is an app for those with mobility issues. It displays potential disruptions like closed sidewalks, steep hills, and ramp accessibility. Hackcessible helps plan walking trips for people who have some challenges getting around.

The winning team of Allie DeFord, Nicholas Bolten, Reagan Middlebrook, and Veronika Sipeeva take home Kindle tablets, cloud computing credit for Azure, course credit from General Assembly, and a 6-month membership at Impact Hub Seattle. They say they plan to keep developing Hackcessible and other projects in the future.

The team worked with mentors from Seattle’s Department of Transportation and the University of Washington as they developed their project. Special thanks go to Dr. Anat Caspi of the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology and Dr. Alan Borning for their help.

Photos from the event are available here. You can also meet the team at the upcoming Civic Cocktail on May 6th.

Hack the Commute: The Final Three


It’s down to the final three. Three teams of coders competing for the “Hack the Commute” championship. To get here, it was hours of coding, collaborating and competing over several weekends in April.

These teams move on to the Championship Round today (April 29) in the Bertha Knight Landes Room in Seattle City Hall:

Live demo
Screenshots and repo
Team: Allie Deford, Nicholas Bolten, Reagan Middlebrook, Veronika Sipeeva

This app is developed to help people who use wheelchairs plan their routes in Seattle, taking into account their specific accessibility needs. It can be used as an extention to OneBusAway application or as a separate tool. Today, the app allows users to check the terrain around the bus stop for accessibility issues, report obstacles and verify information contribued by other users. The future goal is to allow users to search for an accesible route based on their preferences.

Screenshots and repo
Team: Ash Bhoopathy, Andrew Charkin, Michael Charkin
Informal. On-demand. Trusted. The best way to find friendly colleagues to commute with.
This app is designed for iOS.

WorkOrbit (produced by Geohackers for Good)
Screenshots and repo
Team: Allan Yeung, Adrienne Kerr, Andy Barr, Darren Mills
We aim to help new residents of Seattle find the right neighborhood with an experience that encourages informed transit choices.

We have some very generous prizes for the winning team from our sponsors:

Additionally, the winning tool will be featured in Socrata‘s app store, highlighted during the next Civic Cocktail and presented at the Smart Cities conference on June 1st in Washington DC.

Tickets are free.

Cable in Seattle: Know Your Rights As a Building Owner

In your own your home, cable is relatively straightforward. But issues can become unclear when interacting with tenants.  It can be time confusing and complicated if you manage or own buildings where service is consistently transferred between tenants or switched on and off at the end of a lease agreement.

Ken Fellman

Ken Fellman

Nationally recognized cable and telecommunications expert Ken Fellman is coming back for another seminar to inform you about new language in Seattle’s Cable Code that relates to service for multiple dwelling unit buildings and help answer questions like:

– What happens when your current cable contract expires?
– How are service contracts and right-of-entry agreements different?
– Do you have to sign a long-term cable service agreement?
– Can you negotiate with the cable operator?
– Who really owns the cable wiring in your building?

This seminar, sponsored by the City of Seattle Office of Cable Communications, is this Monday, April 27, 2015 from 6:30 to 8:30pm. More details:

Monday, April 27, 2015
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Seattle Pacific University
Otto Miller Hall, Room 109
3469 Third Ave W, Seattle, WA 98119

To register for this free seminar, email your name, contact information and neighborhood(s) of your building(s) to or via our on-line comment form


See ‘Sea IT’ Here

Sea IT Logo

On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, about 140 City of Seattle and King County IT professionals got together for the first-ever Sea IT Conference. It was an opportunity to showcase new projects and services across IT in Seattle. In addition, we had some guest speakers from industry to talk about the latest trends and solutions.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend, here are videos from the presentations.

Video: CTO Michael Mattmiller kicks off the Sea IT Conference

Video: Office 365 Migration Demonstration & Panel Discussion

Video: GIS Mapping – Seattle Parks and Recreation

Video: “Hack the Commute” Panel Discussion

Video: Virtual of Next Generation Data Center (NGDC)

Video: University of Washington Professor Ryan Calo on Privacy

Video:  Seattle Police Body Cameras and Bodycam YouTube Channel Pilot Project with Chief Operating Officer of the Seattle Police Department Mike Wagers

Video: The Internet of Things

Video: Keynote Speaker, Robbie Bach

Thanks again to everyone who attended and helped make this such a successful first venture.

“Privacy Politics” on Seattle Speaks

“Are we losing our privacy?” That’s the question at Town Hall as the Seattle Speaks series focuses on “Privacy Politics”.

Tonight, a very important panel discussion will take place that effects everyone. In this era of open government, data is critical to the promise of efficiency and transparency. But does releasing certain government-held information harm or help the public? City of Seattle leaders are pursuing a new privacy initiative that could impact everything from 911 calls to utility bills to recordings from police-worn body cameras. Plus, how are governments responding to crippling requests for vast volumes of digital data while trying to protect your privacy rights?

Joining the panel discussion are Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Councilmember; Tracy Ann Kosa, of the Seattle Privacy Coalition and a member of the city of Seattle Privacy Advisory Committee; Mike Wagers, chief operating officer for the Seattle Police Department; and Nourisha Wells, chair of the city of Seattle’s Citizens Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board.

The program will be broadcast live on Seattle Channel cable 21 (HD on Comcast 321 and Wave 721) and online at Join the conversation in person or online, where you can take part in polls and voice your opinion via social media and e-mail. #SeattleSpeaks

Admission to Seattle Speaks is free, but advance registration is required. Register and take the pre-show poll at or call (206) 682-7395. Doors open at 6 p.m. with audience instructions at 6:30 p.m. and the live televised program at 7 p.m.