Cisco to Join Google in Ultrafast Broadband Push, Reports Say

Cisco Systems is reportedly getting ready to unveil a plan to work with service providers to build ultrafast broadband networks that could run at 1G bps, according to published reports. The announcement, expected March 9, would mirror a similar infrastructure announcement made by Google Feb. 10, and will come a week before the FCC unveils its National Broadband Plan.

Cisco Systems reportedly is working with several major service providers to develop an ultrafast broadband network.

Cisco's move in some ways mirrors a recent move of Google, which on Feb. 10 said it plans to build broadband networks that run at 1G bps in several regions around the United States.

However, unlike Google-which was seen as taking on established service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon-Cisco is working with the ISPs, many of which are Cisco customers, according to unnamed sources quoted by The Financial Times and Reuters.

Cisco officials are expected to announce the company's plans during a Webcast March 9. In announcing the event, Cisco said its news "will forever change the Internet and its impact on consumers, businesses and governments."

The networking giant's move also dovetails with the federal government's efforts to expand the reach of broadband throughout the country. The Obama administration designated more than $7 billion in federal stimulus money for broadband projects, and on March 17, the Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to release its National Broadband Plan laying out how to bring affordable broadband to most of the more than 93 million Americans who don't have such access.

Federal officials have said expanding the reach of broadband-and ramping up broadband speed-are economic imperatives if the United States is to remain competitive with other countries such as Japan and France, both of which are ahead in terms of broadband adoption rates.

The FCC is pushing ahead with its goal of building networks with speeds of 100M bps for 100 million homes by 2020, an expectation that is sure to raise the pressure on current service providers to ramp up the speed of their networks.

In fall 2009, FCC officials said it could cost as much as $350 billion to upgrade current networks and build new ones to reach the organization's goal.