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

Shots fired during freeway chase from Everett to Redmond

A Redmond man was arrested around 4 a.m. Saturday after fleeing state troopers by car and on foot.

PNW plant-based foods could help in climate fight

Animal products create a lot of emissions, but veggie alternatives are coming from King County.

The Colstrip Power Plant in Montana. Puget Sound Energy owns 25 percent of the remaining two units. File photo
PSE files to sell part of Colstrip coal plant

The utility owns two units at the Montana power plant.

Fentanyl (Courtesy photo)
Fentanyl overdoses keep increasing in King County

Meth overdoses are on the rise as well, continuing a trend reported on last year.

Charter review could overhaul King County Sheriff’s Office

Several changes to the King County Sheriff’s Office were proposed.

Conceptual designs from Emerald Heights for a new assisted living facility along 176th Ave NE showing both the building, top, and what it will look like with tree cover. Graphic courtesy of Emerald Heights
Proposed Emerald Heights expansion raises concerns on Education Hill

Emerald Heights and the Abbey Road community have both filed appeals to the appellate court.

House passes bill to expand court-ordered gun confiscation

Would apply to people who have threatened to use a firearm against a vulnerable adult

The city of Redmond has been referred to as the Bicycle Capital of the Northwest for over the last 40 years. Jake Berg/staff photo
Washington’s new safe passing law for bikes

Under new law, motorists must give at least three feet of space to cyclists using the roadway.

Jake Berg/staff photo 
                                The main trailhead for Smith Woods park.
Redmond neighborhood at risk of losing walkable access to Smith Woods

Residents are reaching out to the city of Redmond for other access options.

Most Read