Gigabit Internet all over the U.S.? Is that even possible? The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski (News - Alert), says it is. At the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., he said all 50 states should have at least one community where consumers can get 1 Gbps or faster Internet access by 2015. He calls this forward push the "Gigabit City Challenge." If his wishes come true, the United States might actually pull the reins behind its poor ranking in Internet speed among other countries of the world -- South Korea currently holds first place. The United States, by contrast, is behind countries like the Czech Republic and Latvia.
"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," said Genachowski. In the FCC press release, he showed particular admiration to Google's (News - Alert) fiber product and the company's aspiration to drive up the speed of Internet while maintaining an affordable cost. Currently, people using Google Fiber can download and upload at 1 gigabit per second for a minimum price of $70 a month. Others with less ambition can opt for the free package, which gives them 5 Mbits downstream and 1 Mbit upstream bandwidth for no monthly cost, save for the initial $300 construction fee.
The problem is that Genachowski doesn't have a clear plan to back up his bold words. He said the FCC (News - Alert) will hold workshops in communities that have gigabit connectivity, discussing the problems of high-speed implementation with broadband providers. Along with that, the FCC intends to create an online clearinghouse where broadband providers will be able to learn best practices in raising bandwidth while lowering costs.
But is it a realistic goal to have gigabit Internet access in all 50 states? And is this a prelude to another package of government mandates on an already-struggling economy? Only time can tell as more news about fiber networks comes along!
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