FCC Wants Gigabit Broadband in Every State by 2015

Speeds of one gigabit per second are approximately 100 times faster than the average fixed high-speed Internet connection.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski called for at least 1 gigabit speed broadband community in all 50 states by 2015 during remarks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting on Jan. 18.

Genachowski said that establishing gigabit communities nationwide would accelerate the creation of a critical mass of markets and innovation hubs with ultra-fast Internet speeds and challenged broadband providers and state and municipal community leaders to come together to meet what the FCC is calling the “Gigabit City Challenge."

Speeds of 1G bps 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. 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, Genachowski announced plans to create an 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 meeting, Genachowski proposed working jointly with the U.S. Conference of Mayors on the best-practices clearinghouse effort.

“American economic history teaches a clear lesson about infrastructure. If we build it, innovation will come,” Genachowski said in a statement. “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.”

The FCC also announced plans to 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.

In Kansas City, the Google Fiber initiative is bringing gigabit service to residential consumers, while in Chattanooga, Tenn., a local utility deployed a fiber network to 170,000 homes, and the resulting high-speed broadband infrastructure helped companies like Volkswagen and Amazon create more than 3,700 new jobs over the past three years.

With the development of high-speed broadband networks, the FCC said the networks would 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 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.