Elections 2013
5:40 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Ed Murray: Comcast Donations Won't Stop Me From Supporting Internet Competition

Mayoral candidate Ed Murray speaks at the Wallingford Community Senior Center as Election Day approaches.
Credit KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

One of Mayor Mike McGinn’s campaign promises when he ran in 2009 was to extend high-speed Internet in Seattle. Now the city is partnering with  Gigabit Squared to extend high-speed service that, while initially limited to a few neighborhoods, could compete favorably with Comcast.

A Washington Post story Thursday implied that if Ed Murray is elected mayor, he would be less likely to support the program, in part because Comcast has spent thousands of dollars to help elect him.

Murray said the article was wrong. “I think what’s unfortunate is that my position is that I actually support us moving forward with Gigabit [Squared],” Murray said. “We need competition.”

Gigabit Squared president Mark Ansboury said he’s in the process of raising capital from investors and closing a deal with the city to offer high-speed Internet in 14 neighborhoods. The city is accepting offers from Gigabit Squared and other providers who can use the city’s spare fiber optic cable to reach residents.

Ansboury expects the partnership in Seattle to go forward, no matter who the next mayor is. “This really is a competitive product and offering,” he said.  “We’d love it if Mayor McGinn were there, but if he’s not, you know, we’re going to continue.”

Meanwhile other competitors said they are already offering faster, cheaper internet in Seattle. Joe Bangah is chief operating officer of the firm CondoInternet.  “We’re currently building fiber to Ballard and that’s going to be launched here in the next 30 days,” he said.

Bangah said the company is also expanding in Capitol Hill, First Hill and Pioneer Square. He said his firm is looking at whether it makes sense to partner with the city as it expands.

The catch? Expect these new offerings to be available in apartment and condo buildings first; reaching single-family homes is much more expensive. 

Murray said he’s not sure which Internet provider he uses at home, since his husband pays the bills. He’s not thrilled with his service, but said his house may be to blame.  “We’ve kind of gone to Wi-Fi in our house and we live in an old brick house so we have some issues with speed,” he said.

Comcast donated directly to Murray only for his state legislative campaigns. But the company has given thousands of dollars to political action committees that support his run for mayor.