FEBRUARY 17, 2010 By Stephen Hardy -- Speaking yesterday at the NARUC Conference in Washington, DC, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said the commission’s upcoming National Broadband Plan will set a goal of 100 million households with 100-Mbps service.
This “100 Squared” initiative, as Genachowski called it, would be only a start, he added. “And we should stretch beyond 100 megabits,” Genachowski told conference attendees. “The U.S. should lead the world in ultra-high-speed broadband testbeds as fast, or faster, than anywhere in the world. In the global race to the top, this will help ensure that America has the infrastructure to host the boldest innovations that can be imagined. Google announced a one gigabit testbed initiative just a few days ago -- and we need others to drive competition to invent the future.” (See "Google announces experimental FTTH network plans" and "Reactions vary to Google FTTH announcement")
The initiative is one of several National Broadband Plan elements the FCC chairman described as part of what he called “a 2020 vision for U.S. broadband leadership.” Genachowski indicated that the plan would set milestones toward the 100-Mbps goal, implying that the FCC will call for a steppingstone approach.
Noting that having large broadband pipes means nothing if citizens don’t use them, the plan also will call for increasing broadband adoption in the United States from the current 65% to 90%, Genachowski added.
The chairman also said that achieving universal broadband service will require a transformation of the Universal Service Fund. He didn’t describe specific actions, but highlighted “cutting waste, driving efficiencies, and converting it over time to broadband support.”
The plan also will contain a series of recommendations. Some of the examples Genachowski listed include:
- modernization of the FCC’s rural telemedicine program
- the deployment of broadband to accelerate a smart grid
- a recommendation to free “a significant amount” of spectrum for licensed and unlicensed use
- lowering the cost of broadband build-out -- both wired and wireless -- through “smart use of government rights of way and conduits”
Genachowski praised fiber and DOCSIS 3.0 as “extraordinary wired broadband technologies with the promise of offering faster speeds to consumers and businesses with access to them.” However, he also stated, “It is growing clearer every day that broadband is the future of mobile and mobile is the future of broadband.”