In an announcement issued today, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski “called for” at least one community with gigabit broadband in all 50 states by 2015.  The chairman, who called the initiative the “Gigabit City Challenge,” encouraged broadband providers and state and municipal community leaders to work together to achieve the gigabit goal.

Noting that there are approximately 42 gigabit communities in 14 states with ultra-high-speed Internet providers, Genachowski essentially seems to be asking broadband providers and community leaders “If they can do it, why can’t you?”

Would-be gigabit champions won’t be required to figure out all of this on their own, however. Genachowski said the FCC will hold workshops on gigabit communities and announced plans to create an online clearinghouse of best practices for lowering costs and increasing the speeds of broadband deployment nationwide.

In today’s announcement Genachowski argued that 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.”

Genachowski credited a gigabit network in Chattanooga, Tenn.  with helping to create 3,700 new jobs in Chattanooga over the past three years by attracting employers such as Volkswagen and Amazon. He also pointed to “new entrepreneurs and startups” that have settled in Kansas City as a result of the gigabit network Google has built there.

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

Genachowski also gave a nod to the Gig.U initiative  which has helped jumpstart the creation of gigabit networks in several university communities including Seattle  and to the broadband stimulus program that funded high-speed “middle mile” networks between communities nationwide and which he encouraged gigabit network planners to tap into.


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12 thoughts on “FCC Chairman: Every State Should Have a Gigabit City by 2015

  1. I think Mr. Genachowski's challenge of more speed/capacity in urban areas is misguided. A more beneficial challenge would have been to build-out today's speed/capacity across the vast unserviced areas of this country to eliminate the digital divide in our society. Why not a "Gigabit Country Challenge"?

  2. I can just imagine the astronomical cost of gigabit ethernet. We at our cable company in a small town pay $1400/month for a 10 MB connection for our cable modem customers already.

  3. That's actually a big price drop. 2 years ago we were paying AT&T $1500/month for a 1.5 MBps T1 line. Then our local phone company's data unit began offering service, so we switched. Pretty good example of the Digital Divide. 35 miles from here you could buy a 1.5 MBps T1 line from AT&T for $100/month, but here it was $1500 based solely on that extra 35 miles.

  4. Looks the chairman and the FCC have been duped again. Just about any FTTH network can offer 1 gig service, and i assume every state already has at least one FTTH network. This has gimmick written all over it. If the FCC is really interested in getting faster broadband out, they should look at the pitiful state of middle mile network competition. Give ISPs more and better backhaul options and you’ll see faster retail speeds.

    1. George, you're right about the middle mile access. For many rural ISPs the middle mile transport drives up the cost per Mb. The ability to get reasonable backhaul depends on the state of middle mile competition in the market. Some ISPs are lucky and have multiple providers in their back yard that can provide competitively priced Ethernet services. Others are less fortunate from a pricing and a transport perspective. Unfortunately, competitively priced middle mile transport is just one part of the equation.

  5. On the one hand, I think there is a role for the FCC in this — they should be advocating for better, faster broadband. The Chairman should be congratulated for pushing the issue. On the other hand, I don't think ACTUAL FCC policy does enough to match the words with action. If they want true hyper speed broadband in as many places as possible, they should be creating conditions for a robust competitive environment. Unfortunately, all too often, they are perpetuating monopolies and duopolies, which will never get you there.

    1. The FCC should be advocating for a ubiquitous high-speed data network instead of Gigabit communities. We would be better off as a nation if every community had access to 100M/25M. There are so many benefits that broadband can bring to rural communities whether it be related to economic development, education, civic engagement, or commerce.

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