Yahoo's "most wired" rankings did not rate counties. Seattle, however, was ranked fifth in Yahoo Life's 1998 ranking of Most Wired Cities and third in the 1999 rankings.
King County's New Dedicated Fiber I-Net
King County renewed a franchise agreement in 1996 with TCI to build a separate dedicated fiber I-Net. The fiber strands will be included within TCI's fiber bundles and will be leased to the County.
The I-Net will serve more than 300 sites, including schools, libraries and government buildings, including health department clinics, fire stations, courts, Metro transit centers, K-12 schools and community colleges.
TCI installs the fiber at the same time as it installs fiber for the commercial cable system and charges the County only for the cost of the dedicated fiber. The installation costs are borne by the company. TCI will maintain the fiber. The County and its users buy and operate the electronics.
The King County Institutional Network (I-Net) Physical Layer Conceptual Design contains a fairly detailed outline of the network's design.
In addition, TCI makes grants valued at almost $2 million per year which the County can apply to the material and other costs of the I-Net. TCI, however, breaks out the charges on its monthly bills to include a line item for a Facility Fee to reflect the cost of TCI's contributions. TCI's franchise agreement requires TCI to pay the County $1.00 per subscriber per month as a capital contribution over the term of the I-Net lease. The Facility Fee notifies subscribers of TCI's contributions to the I-Net and effectively passes the costs along to all of TCI's subscribers.
Seattle does not have an I-Net -- but it does have an extensive array of publicly-owned fiber infrastructure. Seattle did not want to rely upon TCI to maintain its private network, and it did not want to use an ATM network. It also did not want cable subscribers to pay the cost of the institutional network.
Seattle had, over the years, been
installing its own fiber, helped in part through its relationship with the
City-owned electric utility, Seattle City Light. Instead of pursuing
a cable system-based I-Net, Seattle made partnerships with the University
of Washington and others to fund the cost of fiber installations.