Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

King County studies broadband access

A report due to the council in January could show opportunities for expansion.

A report due this January could define the broadband internet needs of residents in King County and shed light on areas that are under-served.

The county’s IT department and chief information officer Tanya Hannah have been conducting a survey of internet needs in the county. Preliminary data found that 96 percent of residents have access to some sort of internet where they live, but that affordability often restricts who can access broadband-speed service.

The King County Council districts 5 and 7 in the south end reported 93% and 91% access, respectively. Affordability tended to be one of the most common reasons. Hannah said the study was asking residents if they had access to internet with 25mb download speeds and 3mb upload speed. Most wireless carriers don’t offer that kind of speed, so the study was examining mainly computer internet.

A survey was conducted across the county, and access to a similar report conducted by Seattle last year was also included.

Whereas those in urban areas tended to have adequate options, pricing was an issue. In more rural areas of the county, there may not be options for people. Providers may not view it as profitable to finish first-last mile connections without incentives.

As part of the report, the county will be looking at incentives they could offer private developers to run broadband fiber lines to more areas of the county. This could come in the form of a public-private partnership or leveraging franchise agreements, Hannah said. The options will be discussed in the January report.

As 5G wireless networking approaches, it will likely be centered in urban areas instead of rural parts of King County, Hannah said. For many of the incorporated parts of the county, 5G is already on its way. Several companies have already begun rolling out necessary infrastructure, including on the Eastside.

The technology will allow much faster access, especially for products like enhanced reality and smart cars. So-called “smart cities” as well as the “internet of things” also relies on 5G, facilitated by small-cell towers.

In unincorporated King County, the council has franchise agreements with Comcast and WAVE Broadband. This allows the companies to use county right-of-way to provide cable television and internet to customers. The Comcast agreement will expire in 2024, and WAVE’s will expire in 2023. At that point, the county could negotiate requirements that the service providers expand their service areas.

More in News

A proposal by Senate Democrats would require concealed pistol license applicants in Washington state to complete a safety course. File photo
Democrats seek firearm training requirement for concealed carriers

Republican senator calls proposal ‘unconstitutional.’

Snohomish County man is first U.S. case of new coronavirus

A man in his 30s was hospitalized in Everett after contracting the virus during a trip to China.

Blake Peterson/staff photo
                                City manager Jennifer Phillips was one of the speakers at the Jan. 16 information session.
What’s next for the former Wayne Golf Course in Bothell?

The city of Bothell recently acquired the property from its previous owners.

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.

Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, the primary sponsor of SB 5323, speaking on the bill. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Sabio-Howell)
Proposed law adds a fee to plastic bags at checkout

Senate passes bill to ban single-use plastic bags, place 8-cent fee on reusable plastic bags.

From left to right: Corina Pfeil, Melanie O’Cain, Rod Dembowski, Milton Curtis and David Baker. Photo courtesy city of Kenmore
Baker, Herbig continue as Kenmore mayor, deputy mayor

They were appointed at the Jan. 13 council meeting, during which councilmembers were also sworn in.

Development has encroached on the East Lake Sammamish Trail (at right). Joe Livarchik/file photo
King County files lawsuit to finish East Lake Sammamish Trail

Homeowners have until September to remove buildings and other property from the right of way.

Bellevue residents Marko and Karla Ilicic play a hockey game in the Topgolf Swing Suite inside Forum Social House. Natalie DeFord/staff photo
Forum Social House opens in Bellevue

Eastside gets new nightclub, mini golf, swing suites.

Most Read