FCC Chairman Wants Ultra High Speed Broadband In 100 Million U.S. Households by 2020

Says national broadband plan will create jobs, spur economic growth, prompt innovation.

February 19, 2010

D.H. Kass

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The Federal Communications Commission's national broadband plan includes an initiative to equip 100 million U.S. households with 100 megabits-per-second service by the year 2020, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told attendees at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) conference held in Washington, D.C. this week.

The FCC is slated to deliver its national broadband plan, a directive of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), to Congress in March.

In a speech entitled, “Broadband: Our Enduring Engine for Prosperity and Opportunity,” Genachowski outlined the so-called "100 Squared" project, set a 90 percent broadband adoption target by 2020, and, in pitching for “broadband testbeds,” praised Google Inc.’s recently announced plan to experiment in a select number of communities with fiber-to-the-home service at speeds up to 1 gigabit per second.

He said that a wide ranging broadband initiative was critical to “unleash American ingenuity and ensure that businesses, large and small, are created here, move here, and stay here.”

Genachowski called the implementation of ultra high speed broadband throughout the country an “imperative,” tying it to an array of priorities, including job creation, economic growth, innovation, investment, education, health care, energy efficiency, public safety and the “vibrancy of our democracy.”

Outlook for improved broadband adoption

The chief telecom regulator bemoaned the nation’s lagging rate of broadband adoption, pointing to research that places the U.S. as far back as 16th in the world, pegging access in this country at “roughly 65 percent” of households, a significant departure from Singapore’s 88 percent and South Korea’s 95 percent adoption rate.

“No one can argue that we are leading the world in broadband, or are even as close as we should be,” Genachowski said, noting that “more than 20 countries already have broadband plans and are pushing to capture the jobs and economic advantages that broadband enables.”

In making his case for broadband’s economic impact, Genachowski said that limited Internet access in the U.S. among low-income, minority, tribal communities, rural households and the unemployed has resulted in “leaving millions behind.”

Genachowski said that the FCC’s plan will include other recommendations for broadband, such as improving the already successful E-Rate program for Internet connections in classrooms and libraries; modernization of the FCC’s rural telemedicine program; deployment to accelerate smart grid technology; development of public and private partnerships to increase Internet adoption; freeing up a significant amount of spectrum for licensed and unlicensed use; methods to lower the cost of build outs; and, creating an interoperable public safety network.

TAGS: FCC,broadband,network,ARRA,high speed

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