A year after Seattle mayor Mike McGinn announced a partnership with ultra-fast internet provider Gigabit Squared, The Washington Post reports that competitor Comcast is throwing its weight behind his opponent in the upcoming election. The company has donated several thousand dollars to current Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray, documents show. The donations, largely through PACs like the Broadband Communications Association of Washington, appear to have started coming after the announcement of the gigabit internet plan: Comcast donated $700 to Murray's campaign exactly one day after McGinn unveiled his pact with Gigabit Squared.
The rise of ultra-fast broadband has shaken traditional cable providers. Comcast and Time Warner Cable have both expressed doubt that there's consumer demand for gigabit ethernet, and some have attempted to get the same support from local governments as experiments like Google Fiber. Several months after McGinn's announcement, Comcast cut prices and upped speed in Washington, offering 105Mbps connections for $115 a month; Gigabit Squared would later offer its gigabit internet for $80 a month and 100Mbps service for $45, both with a $350 installation fee.
Comcast denied that its donations were about unseating McGinn, saying that they followed support for Murray's Senate campaign. Murray's campaign, meanwhile, has rebuked the Post and said he's not going to deviate from McGinn's course on ultra-fast broadband. "A story posted online on the Washington Post web site yesterday incorrectly implies that Ed Murray might not be supportive of citywide high speed broadband because Comcast has contributed to his campaign. As we made clear to the reporter yesterday — and as the article reports — Ed does support the city's current efforts with Gigabit Squared to create a high-speed broadband network."