FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski threw down the gauntlet before the nation’s state and municipal officials calling for at least one municipality in each state to host a network with speeds of one gigabit per second by 2015 at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting, Jan. 17-19, in Washington, D.C. Currently, according to the Fiber to the Home Council, 42 communities in 14 states are served by ultra-high-speed fiber Internet providers, which are 100 times faster than the average fixed high-speed Internet connection.
“Gigabit Cities,” as Genachowski referred to them, would accelerate the creation of a critical mass of markets and innovation hubs with ultra-fast Internet speeds.
“American economic history teaches a clear lesson about infrastructure. If we build it, innovation will come,” Genachowski said. “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.”
An example of a successful municipal deployment cited by the FCC was Chattanooga, Tenn., where a local utility deployed a fiber network to 170,000 homes. Because of the city’s broadband infrastructure investment, companies like Volkswagen and Amazon have created more than 3,700 new jobs there in the past three years. In Kansas City, the Google Fiber initiative is bringing gigabit service to residential consumers, attracting new entrepreneurs and startups to the community.
To help communities meet the Gigabit City Challenge, Genachowski announced 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. The FCC will also hold workshops on gigabit cities.
Paul Reynolds, president and founder CMA, who consults cities on wireless deployments, told DAS Bulletin that municipalities can be an integral part of the wireless super highway and if they embrace that role, they will improve their cities on multiple fronts, including revenue and business development.
“Every CEO says if there is not a robust wireless network in a city, by 2015, they would reconsider relocating there with their company,” Reynolds said. “The fiber is a critical component of the backbone of wireless networks for backhaul. A wireless site needs that 1 gig link. That’s very important.”
Wireless infrastructure and fiber backhaul will be two critical components for cities to stay current with development of mobile technology in the future, Reynolds said.
“Pretty soon, cars will have IP addresses, homes will have IP addresses, even Coke machines will have IP addresses,” he said. “Those cities that embrace this are going to be way ahead of everyone else, and the FCC is trying to get the cities to be an active partner in the development of this infrastructure and to not rely strictly on carriers.”
Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director, Wi-Fi Alliance, agreed that the fiber backbone is critical to the develop of super-fast Wi-Fi networks,
“Wi-Fi data rates exceed that of most backhaul offerings today,” she said. “So, fast fiber, which would be a higher-performing pipe to the Wi-Fi network, is a valuable enabler for users to get the full potential out of their Wi-Fi network’s capabilities.”