On the heels of my Monday post about how Seattle's fiber-optic plan had stalled, news emerges: Brier Dudley at The Seattle Times writes up a Wednesday City Council meeting where a committee reviewed the project's status. Based on a consultant's report, the council seems to have ruled out a city-owned network that reached nearly every home and business, considering instead building a core fiber network and allowing private firms to use that for a fiber interchange.

With Dudley noting that a fiber backbone project might not break ground until 2010, it's a bit hard to see whether there will be enough customers—who have neither access to Comcast nor Qwest's speeds— to make a market. There could still be several thousand unserved or underserved households, but at that point, far more homes would have 12 to 100 Mbps service available at prices comparable to whatever a public/private partnership could offer.

Indeed, things might have changed too much by 2010. Comcast just switched its $45-per-month basic broadband service (that includes no bundle discount for cable or phones) to a minimum of 12 Mbps and higher burst rates. Qwest is slowly but steadily putting fiber to the node (neighborhood junctions) instead of the home, but has 12 and 20 Mbps rates available where they've put in those glass fibers. (Verizon is pulling fiber to the home on the Eastside in old GTE territory.) 

It's an interesting notion that Seattle could build a wholesale core, which could be tricky for any one company to raise the capital to build, but not get in the business of providing final-mile wiring.

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