City Hall

Gigabit Squared Plans "Bust" In Chicago

Gigabit Squared, the company former mayor Mike McGinn picked to provide fast Internet to Seattle, has reportedly failed to deliver in Chicago.

By Erica C. Barnett January 7, 2014

Former mayor Mike McGinn may be getting the last laugh with the news that the tunnel-boring machine Bertha is hung up on an eight-inch-diameter pipe—an obstruction that could lead to cost overruns, McGinn's major issue as a candidate and as mayor—but he didn't have nearly as much foresight on another expensive project, one he championed: Bringing high-speed internet service to Seattle via a startup company called Gigabit Squared. 

Gigabit—a four-year-old, Cincinnatti-based startup that has announced plans to bring broadband to Topeka, KS, Chicago, Jackson, MS, and other cities—has not, to date, hooked up a single Internet connection anywhere—has apparently failed in its efforts to bring broadband to Chicago's South Side, according to the tech site Chicago Grid, and has "fail[ed] to provide local residents with details" about its future plans. 

Additionally, Gigabit has, according to Seattle's Geekwire, failed to pay a bill of $52,250 to the city of Seattle—a minuscule but symbolic amount compared to the millions that would have been required to actually get the high-speed broadband project off the ground.

McGinn chose Gigabit to activate unused "dark fiber" in neighborhoods across Seattle last year. After delaying its planned rollout (and circumscribing it geographically) Gigabit acknowledged that it hadn't managed to secure investor funding for its broadband system and was putting the plan on hold indefinitely. 

McGinn scored political points from a widely distributed Washington Post story touting his advocacy for fast broadband and criticizing his opponent, now-Mayor Ed Murray, for benefiting from two independent expenditure campaigns that received money from Gigabit rival and Internet giant Comcast. (PubliCola reported on Murray's Comcast money and the Gigabit angle prior to the Post's speculative story about Murray's supposed bias against Gigabit due to his Comcast money.) 

Murray told PubliCola he wasn't opposed to Gigabit's proposal, but would like to open up the broadband bidding process to more than one company.

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