Seattle is thinking about leasing some of the city’s 500 miles of unused dark fiber to private companies, hoping that ultra-fast broadband connections will result.

This week Mayor Mike McGinn and University of Washington President Michael Young announced a partnership to seek business proposals that would offer high-speed service in neighborhoods surrounding the University of Washington campus.

The city of Seattle has never before leased its dark fiber for this purpose, according to a blog on McGinn’s official website.

“We want to fire it up to help our local businesses and creative people innovate,” the blog post said. “To do that, we’re inviting private service providers to lease the dark fiber. We hope to negotiate with companies for better service to nearby neighborhoods who have poor quality service right now.”

Many neighborhoods in the area are limited by copper phone lines and coaxial cable designed to carry only telephone and television, the city said. The University of Washington campus itself has high-speed connectivity, but this university partnership would extend it into nearby businesses and residences, officials said.

Seattle officials are seeking input from service providers and other interested parties through a request for information that’s open until Dec. 2.

The University of Washington is one of more than 30 major U.S. universities participating in “Gig.U,” formally called the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project. The partnership, launched in July, is trying to accelerate ultra high-speed broadband adoption by starting a “critical mass” of next-gen test beds.

“While economic hurdles impede upgrading networks in all communities, those hurdles are smaller in university communities as they enjoy characteristics that both lower the cost of deployment and increase demand, making them the most attractive targets for initial next-generation network deployments,” the Gig.U website said.