Pricing, first areas for ultra-fast Seattle Internet service announced

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Gigabit Seattle will ultimately bring ultra-fast Internet service to 14 areas by the end of 2014. (Gigabit Seattle) | Zoom
The Internet is about to get super fast in some parts of Seattle and it's coming at a surprisingly affordable price.

Washington, D.C. broadband developer Gigabit Squared announced Monday the residential rates it will charge for the ultra-high-speed fiber network in Seattle it agreed to build last December.

There will be three tiers, with the price increasing depending on how fast of a service you sign up for. Taylor Soper, at our tech partner GeekWire.com, had an interesting analogy, saying "Plan A is like a Ford Focus, Plan B is a BMW, while Plan C is the Ferrari."

The U-District, First Hill, Capitol Hill, and Central Area will get Gigabit's service first in early 2014. Mark Ansboury, president of Gigabit Squared, says those neighborhoods were picked due to high demand and access to already-available infrastructure. But all of the 14 designated areas around the city are expected to gain access to the network by the end of 2014.

"We are excited about the limitless possibilities our network can bring to the residents located in these areas and are confident that the affordability and high speed performance of our fiber network will be well received," Ansboury said in an interview.

Demand for the service has been overwhelming since the company announced a public/private partnership with the city in December. Ansboury said Gigabit has received thousand of requests for the service.

"It's as many as 50 to 1,000 times faster than existing DSL and cable-modem services. The real key to this is we're offering symmetrical services, which means that the upload speed is just as fast as the download speed."

While the greatest demand for the service, for now, is from people who create data-intensive content like videos, Ansboury said it will dramatically change the way people use the Internet now and in the future.

"It's going to be an increased performance, faster downloads, real time watching experience of high-def[inition] content without constraining it at all," he said.

In the future, Ansboury predicts far more people will seek to used the increased speed for high-definition video conferencing with everyone from doctors to teachers to clients.

"You know, 25 percent of the population now works at home at least two or three days. That means they need access to the same kind of service in their own companies. So I think we're going to see a real change from what people need in their own homes."

It's no surprise the Gigabit service is being so warmly received. Competitor XFINITY by Comcast's fastest service caps out at up to 50 Mbps, about half the speed of Plan B, for $5 more per month.

Here's a guide to the three options:

Plan A

$350 installation fee, no monthly charge for 60 months, 5 Mbps download speed, 1 Mpbs upload.
This service is transferable to new owners/renters. After 60 months, Plan A customers can upgrade to 10 Mbps download/upload speed for $10 per month.

Plan B

No installation fee, $45 per month
100 Mbps download speed, 100 Mbps upload speed

Plan C

No installation fee, $80 per month
1000 Mbps download speed, 1000 Mbps upload speed

The company will announce a simple sign-up process next month and upcoming neighborhood roll-outs sometime after that. And if your neighborhood isn't part of the initial plan, that doesn't mean the service won't ever be available.

"We're not going to be hard and fast on the boundaries of the neighborhoods we serve. We're going to be demand driven. So don't fret if you're one block over."


Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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