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FCC Chair Sets 2020 Broadband Vision

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) still has another month to deliver its National Broadband Plan to Congress, but Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has already served up a key goal that's tied to the Plan's "2020 vision" to deliver 100-Mbit/s services to 100 million households.

Genachowski made mention of that "100 Squared" initiative today during a speech to the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners (NARUC) conference in Washington.

But that stated goal shouldn't be all that hard to reach based on the current deployment status of Docsis 3.0 and other broadband technologies that can already achieve such speeds.

SNL Kagan , for example, estimates that US cable operators already had wideband deployed to about 48.6 million homes passed by the end of 2009, equal to about 37 percent of all cable homes passed (that number includes overlap from competitive cable "overbuilders"). Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), the second-largest US MSO, should help to push that number even higher in 2010 based on its expected wideband deployment plans in parts of Texas, Ohio, and upstate New York. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), meanwhile, already had FiOS Internet in front of 12.2 million homes and businesses at the end of 2009. (See Time Warner Cable's Next Docsis 3.0 Targets .)

But Genachoski doesn't think things should stop there, giving a shout-out to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and its experimental plan to deliver 1-Gbit/s services to as many as 500,000 users over an "open" fiber-to-the-premises platform. (See Google Jumps Into Gigabit FTTH, Google's Pointy Stick , and Google's Gigabit Fiber Fantasy.)

"And we should stretch beyond 100 megabits," he said. "The US should lead the world in ultra-speed broadband testbeds as fast, or faster, than anywhere in the world... Other countries with broadband plans have universality goals ranging from 1 to 2 megabits. Our goal for universal service will be higher."

Genachowski said the US remained well behind many other countries in terms of the average broadband speeds that are being delivered, and that roughly 14 million Americans still don't have access to broadband services, contributing to a 65 percent adoption rate that's well behind many of its peers, including Singapore (88 percent) and South Korea (95 percent).

He also reiterated a position that the US doesn't have enough spectrum "to meet its medium- and long-term mobile broadband needs. There may be no greater obstacle to our country having a world-leading mobile broadband infrastructure."

FCC is tasked with delivering its National Broadband Plan to Congress on March 17, 2010 -- about one month later than originally expected. (See FCC Boots Up National Broadband Plan and FCC Delays National Broadband Plan.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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