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FCC Wants Gigabit Internet Communities Nationwide by 2015

On Friday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski challenged broadband providers and state and municipal community leaders to have at least one gigabit Internet community in each state by 2015. The challenge is obviously propelled by Google's accomplishments with Google Fiber in Kansas City which is currently offering gigabit internet to residents along with a streaming TV service.

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

To help communities meet this challenge, Genachowski revealed plans to create a new 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 ways to create gigabit communities. He also proposed working jointly with the U.S. Conference of Mayors on the best-practices clearinghouse effort.

As part of Genachowski's plan, the FCC will hold workshops on gigabit communities that will include broadband providers and state and municipal leaders. Subjects will include evaluating barriers, increasing incentives, and lowering the costs of speeding gigabit network deployment. The resulting collaboration of all workshops will inform the Commission's clearinghouse about how the industry, local and state leaders can effectively establish gigabit communities nationwide without breaking the local economies.

"The FCC’s Broadband Acceleration Initiative is working to expand the reach of robust, affordable broadband by streamlining access to utility poles and rights of way, and improving policies for wireless facilities siting and other infrastructure," the FCC said on Friday. "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."

The FCC noted Google's success in building a gigabit community in Kansas City as well as a local utility in Chattanooga, Tennessee which deployed a fiber network to 170,000 homes. This latter new network created more than 3.700 new jobs over the last three years thanks to Amazon and Volkswagen. The FCC also noted the Gig.U initiative which has catalyzed $200 million in private investment to build ultra-high-speed hubs in the communities of many leading research universities.

"The Gigabit City Challenge is designed to drive a critical mass of gigabit communities like these, creating new markets for 21st century services, promoting competition, spurring innovation, and driving economic growth nationwide," the FCC added.