FCC: Every state needs gigabit broadband

The Federal Communications Commission has called for at least one city in every state to have a one gigabit per second broadband service by 2015. But it didn’t announce any new regulatory changes or extra funding to make it happen.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, apparently a Field of Dreams fan, said that “American economic history teaches a clear lesson about infrastructure. If we build it, innovation will come.”

According to Genachowski (pictured center), there’s more to ultra-fast broadband than being able to download HD porn in a matter of seconds. He pointed to telemedicine, online learning and video conferencing as possible uses and said the aim was that “networks cease to be hurdles to applications.”

Genachowski made his call at a conference of mayors from around the country. He proposed setting up a national “clearinghouse” to share ideas to overcome the technical and bureaucratic obstacles to faster broadband. He also announced plans for workshops bringing together broadband providers and political leaders.

Although there are no new funding programs accompanying the claim, Genachowski argued that the FCC is already helping spread high-speed broadband through funding for connections to schools and hospitals, along with some simpler measures such as reducing red tape for broadband providers that need to access utility poles.

While the “every state by 2015” target seems ambitious, gigabit broadband isn’t some futuristic dream. Google has already launched such a service in parts of Kansas City, which won a national competition to become a testbed. Meanwhile the publicly owned utility provider EPB has set up a fiber optic network that offers gigabit broadband to around 170,000 homes and businesses in Chattannooga.

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