We wrote a couple weeks ago that building an expansive fiber-optic network should be one of City Hall’s top priorities. With the recent announcement that Google Fiber is expanding to new cities, we have a clearer picture of how Spokane might be able to get in on the action. Most importantly, Google describes its planning process for Fiber as one with two parts. First, cities complete what the company calls a “fiber-ready” checklist. Then a detailed city study begins. Spokane can get a head start on other cities that will inevitably be competing for fiber in the future by completing a checklist now.
Spokane can procure the necessary maps of existing utility poles, gas, power, and water lines. It can provide a clearer picture of the existing fiber services and dark fiber that are lying dormant underneath the city. It can streamline the permitting and approvals process for fiber-optic lines regardless of whether or not Google comes knocking sometime down the road. These moves would be beneficial for any potential actor to get in on the fiber action. It doesn’t have to be Google. In fact, numerous companies operate fiber optic networks within the city already, albeit on a primarily commercial customer basis. By making this information more readily available and making it easier to get a permit for work on internet infrastructure, Spokane could jumpstart a potential fiber expansion.
What are your thoughts? Can the dark fiber be lit? Would Spokane be better served by a municipal internet utility that works like its existing water and garbage services? What’s next for Spokane? Share your comments below, on Twitter, on Facebook, and around the web. We love to hear from you.