Genachowsk Makes Gigabit City Challenge
January 22, 2013
At the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski called for at least one gigabit community in all 50 states by 2015. Challenging broadband providers and state and municipal community leaders to come together to meet this “Gigabit City Challenge,” Chairman Genachowski said that establishing gigabit communities nationwide will accelerate the creation of a critical mass of markets and innovation hubs with ultra-fast Internet speeds.
Chairman Genachowski said, “American economic history teaches a clear lesson about infrastructure. If we build it, innovation will come. The U.S. needs a critical mass of gigabit communities nationwide so that innovators can develop next-generation applications and services that will drive economic growth and global competitiveness.”
Speeds of one gigabit per second are approximately 100 times faster than the average fixed high-speed Internet connection. At gigabit speeds, connections can handle multiple streams of large-format, high-definition content like online video calls, movies, and immersive educational experiences. Networks cease to be hurdles to applications, so it no longer matters whether medical data, high-definition video, or online services are in the same building or miles away across the state.
Gigabit communities spur innovators to create new businesses and industries, spark connectivity among citizens and services, and incentivize investment in high-tech industries. Today, approximately 42 communities in 14 states are served by ultra-high-speed fiber Internet providers, according to the Fiber to the Home Council.
To help communities meet the Gigabit City Challenge, Chairman Genachowski announced plans to create a new online clearinghouse of best practices to collect and disseminate information about how to lower the costs and increase the speed of broadband deployment nationwide, including to create gigabit communities. At the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, Chairman Genachowski proposed working jointly with the U.S. Conference of Mayors on the best-practices clearinghouse effort.
Chairman Genachowski also announced that the FCC will hold workshops on gigabit communities. The workshops will convene leaders from the gigabit community ecosystem—including broadband providers, and state and municipal leaders— to evaluate barriers, increase incentives, and lower the costs of speeding gigabit network deployment. Together, the workshops will inform the Commission’s clearinghouse of ways industry, and local and state leaders can meet the challenge to establish gigabit communities nationwide.
Communities across the country are already taking action to seize the opportunities of gigabit broadband for their local economies and bring superfast broadband to homes. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, a local utility deployed a fiber network to 170,000 homes. Thanks to the city’s investment in broadband infrastructure, companies like Volkswagen and Amazon have created more than 3,700 new jobs over the past three years in Chattanooga. In Kansas City, the Google Fiber initiative is bringing gigabit service to residential consumers, attracting new entrepreneurs and startups to the community.
The Gig.U initiative has already catalyzed $200 million in private investment to build ultra-high-speed hubs in the communities of many leading research universities, including a recent joint venture with the University of Washington and a private ISP to deliver gigabit service to a dozen area neighborhoods in Seattle. The Gigabit City Challenge is designed to drive a critical mass of gigabit communities like these,creating new markets for 21st century services, promoting competition, spurring innovation, and driving economic growth nationwide.
The FCC’s Broadband Acceleration Initiative is working to expand the reach of robust, affordable broadband by streamlining access to utility poles and rights of way, and improving policies for wireless facilities siting and other infrastructure. Gigabit communities can also benefit from tens of thousands of miles of critical “middle mile” fiber infrastructure funded throughout the country by the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program run by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The Commission’s Connect America Fund, the largest ever public investment in rural broadband, includes funding for high-speed broadband to anchor institutions like schools and hospitals.