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Originally published Thursday, March 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Brier Dudley

Fiber optic TV on Eastside in 2008?

Excerpts from the blog This will give some Eastsiders something to be smug about: They already get the region's fastest residential Internet...

Seattle Times staff columnist

Excerpts from the blog

This will give some Eastsiders something to be smug about: They already get the region's fastest residential Internet service from Verizon's fiber optic network, and soon they'll get TV service over the same pipe.

During a meeting with Verizon representatives Wednesday, it came out that TV service is likely to be available to FiOS customers by the end of 2008.

It's not for sure and nothing's ready to be announced yet — expect to hear the company talk first about expanding the reach of FiOS broadband — but it sounds as if the company is mulling a regional video hub in Everett that would power the TV service.

This still isn't true Internet protocol TV — it's still more akin to cable service — but it's frosting on the cake for the lucky few people around here who can get fiber-to-the-home broadband. At the end of 2007, the FiOS service reached 137,000 homes in an arc from the Eastside north into Snohomish County.

FiOS bundles, with broadband, phone and 150 high-def TV channels, probably will be about $95 a month.

The pricing would be similar to the DirectTV-DSL-phone bundle offered by Qwest elsewhere in the region, but it's less than half as fast as FiOS broadband and the TV service requires a satellite dish.

Seattleites aren't likely to see fiber to the home soon, unless Verizon gets a wild hair and buys Qwest, or decides to piggyback on the city's glacial effort to develop a residential fiber network.

But who knows, maybe the state broadband resource mapping project, which was approved by the Legislature Wednesday, will speed things along.

Hulu now on stage

Finally, the Hulu online video service is open to the public, offering free and legal TV shows and movies online.

It's not a universal collection, but for the casual video watcher, there's enough free stuff to keep you out of the video store (online or off) for months.

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The joint venture of NBC and News Corp. is run largely by a group of former Seattle techies — from Amazon.com and Microsoft — as detailed in a column I wrote in November.

Special tricks include the ability to extract clips — the funny bits from a show, for instance — and share them with friends or post on a blog or Web site. Expect to see Hulu excerpts all over the Web soon.

But what really amazes me is how many relatively new movies the site offers for free.

On movie night, it's going to become the first stop for cheapskates accustomed to watching movies pulled from the Web. Why pay for a download when you're just trying to kill a few hours?

(It seemed pretty busy Wednesday, by the way. I re-registered and the site hung up, though it may have been my browser and the lunchtime bandwidth surge. After I stopped the "not running" process and returned to the site, my registration was intact and I was welcomed back by name.)

Neighborhood tech

I love the idea of a neighborhood tech show around here, especially one for Ballard and Fremont, where the first Ballard/Fremont Tech Fair is happening next week.

The March 18 event runs from 2 to 6 p.m. at Nautilusnet.com, a server hardware vendor at 803 N.W. Market St.

Nautilusnet.com is sponsoring the shindig, along with Netso, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, ViewSonic, LaCie and others. (I was looped in by Doug Fletcher at AccelNet, a wireless Internet service provider that has a service hub in Ballard.)

The focus of the event is a big Microsoft truck full of equipment demonstrating its new Server 2008 and other products.

That's fine, but I hope it's more than just a miniature Microsoft server launch. There are lots of interesting tech companies in the Ship Canal tech corridor — the Silicon Canal? — that would be great to surface at a tech event.

If it's a success, maybe the BFTF should go big in 2009 — bring in more startups, invite the crafty Make magazine crowd and take over Ballard Avenue for a day, like the farmers market.

Add a beer garden and bicyclists wearing nothing but computers, then try it in Pioneer Square, South Lake Union and Overlake.

It could also pay homage to Ballard Computer, the long-gone hobbyist outpost that inspired a generation of computer and software enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.

This material has been edited for print publication. Brier Dudley's blog appears Thursdays.

Reach him at 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

About Brier Dudley
Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.
bdudley@seattletimes.com | 206-515-5687

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