RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF CREATING A PUBLIC INTERNET UTILITY IN SEATTLE

WHEREAS internet access is an essential prerequisite to everyday life, needed to apply for jobs, study for school, connect with local government, and interact with others in the civic square; and

WHEREAS more than one in six Seattle households, or 17.2%, still lack home internet access1; and

WHEREAS communities of color, immigrants, and low-income residents are disproportionately affected by this lack of access2; and

WHEREAS 82% of Seattle residents report that internet is as essential a service as water or electricity while only 30% report they can afford their monthly bill3; and

WHEREAS interim solutions such as wireless hotspots and library access have proven woefully inadequate4; and

WHEREAS a 2015 feasibility study found that Seattle could provide internet 10x faster for 1/3rd the price of the private market3; and

WHEREAS the introduction of a public utility is projected to save Seattle residents between $20 million and $84 each year5; and

WHEREAS Internet Service Providers have implemented a number of anti-consumer policies and practices, including implementing data caps6, blocking or throttling legal content7, and lobbying the FCC to repeal Net Neutrality Protections8; and

WHEREAS Seattle’s public electricity utility has a track record of providing lower cost9 and more environmentally-friendly10 electricity than private providers;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 43rd Legislative District Democrats call on the Seattle City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan to expedite the creation of a public internet utility, as directed in Seattle’s 2035 Comprehensive Master Plan; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call on the Seattle City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan to dedicate funding during the next city budget cycle to create a shovel-ready implementation plan12 to prepare for a future public network; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be sent to Mayor Jenny Durkan, and all members of the Seattle City Council.

Written by Devin Glaser, Executive Director of Upgrade Seattle.

Submitted by Amy Madden, 43rd LD State Committee Member, for consideration by the 43rd Legislative District Democrats at their September 12, 2018 meeting.


References:

1. National Digital Inclusion Alliance, “Worst Connected Cities 2016” (June 7th, 2018)
https://www.digitalinclusion.org/blog/2018/06/07/worst-connected-cities-2016/

2. City of Seattle, “Technology Access & Adoption in the City of Seattle (2014) http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/Tech/2014%20Survey%20Technical%20Report%20Final.pdf

3. City of Seattle, “Fiber-to-the-Premises Feasibility Study (June 2015)

 https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/Broadband/2016-6SeattleReport-Final.pdf

4. Seattle Public Library, “SPL Hotspots” Total Copies 695, Total Holds 1,621. (August 29th, 2018) https://seattle.bibliocommons.com/item/show/3030520030_spl_hotspot

5. Institute for Local Self Reliance, “Comcast Spends Big on Local Elections:

Would Lose Millions in Revenue from Real Broadband Competition” (November 2017) https://muninetworks.org/sites/www.muninetworks.org/files/2017-11-comcast-fort-collins-seattle-competition-policy-brief.pdf

6. KING5 News, “Comcast adds home internet data caps” (October 7th, 2016) https://www.king5.com/article/tech/comcast-adds-home-internet-data-cap/330232668

7. Gizmodo, “Comcast Changed Its Net Neutrality Pledge the Day After the FCC Moved to Kill the Open Web” (November 29th, 2017) https://gizmodo.com/comcast-changed-its-net-neutrality-pledge-the-day-after-1820852207

8. FastCompany, “Amid Net Neutrality Debate, Biggest ISPs Spent At Least $26.3 Million On Lobbying” (December 13th, 2017) https://www.fastcompany.com/40507541/amid-net-neutrality-debate-biggest-isps-spent-at-least-26-3-million-on-lobbying

9. Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, “Residential Electric Bill Comparison” (2016) https://www.utc.wa.gov/regulatedIndustries/utilities/energy/Pages/residentialElectricBillComparison.aspx

10. Seattle City Light, “THE NATION’S GREENEST UTILITY” (n.d.) http://www.seattle.gov/light/greenest/lowrates.asp

11. Community Networks, “Seattle Puts Muni Broadband In Its Master Plan” (December 12th, 2016) https://muninetworks.org/content/seattle-puts-muni-broadband-its-master-plan

12. The Stranger, “Another Shot for Municipal Broadband in Seattle” (October 12th, 2017) https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/10/12/25465059/another-shot-for-municipal-broadband-in-seattle