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US Aims for 1-Gig Broadband

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s experiment with 1Gbit/s access in the Kansas Cities has apparently gotten the attention of the White House.

President Obama will sign an executive order Thursday to create a national broadband network "operating at speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second," as the news release says, under a newly created non-profit partnership called US Ignite.

The network would serve as a test bed for next-generation applications in areas such as education, health care and clean energy -- you know, along the lines of what Google's got in mind for the networks it's building in Missouri and Kansas.

About 100 partners are helping US Insight, with some providing in-kind backing, including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) and HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ).

Several service providers will contribute pilot programs that test out superfast broadband. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), for example, will test speeds up to 300Mbit/s in homes, businesses and institutions in Philadelphia, and support apps such as over-the-top video on TVs and portable devices. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) said it'll work with universities to test new apps in its lab. The city of Chattanooga, Tenn., has agreed to provide access to its existing 1Gbit/s network.

US Ignite is starting off with agreements with 25 cities across the country that will form the initial branches of the national network. This fact sheet (PDF) offers more detail on the initial projects and partners involved.

Why this matters
The government spin is that the effort will help spark the crummy economy and create a platform to test the limits of, and urge the adoption of, broadband. As everyone knows, the United States continues to be a broadband laggard when compared to the likes of Japan and South Korea. The new project also shares some of the broader goals outlined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's National Broadband Plan.

No guarantees that it'll bring 1Gbit/s to your doorstep any time soon, though!

For more


— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

joanengebretson 12/5/2012 | 5:30:07 PM
re: US Aims for 1-Gig Broadband

There's getting to be quite a few gigabit networks to anchor institutions such as universities. UCAID won a big stimulus award to bring gigabit connectivity to a large number of anchor institutions nationwide largely by interconnecting existing research & academic networks so I think US Ignite should find some pretty good testbeds.


Having said that there definitely is some network construction involved in the announcement. The fact sheet talks about an investment in the government's GENI network. And as you noted Verizon has made a commitment about delivering 300 Mbps - at least in Philadelphia.


My comments were mostly in response to the overall comment thread. I realize it's tempting to be jaded about government involvement in this. But I see their role in the project primarily as just one more user of broadband that could benefit from really high speeds.


 

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:30:07 PM
re: US Aims for 1-Gig Broadband

I guess I don't get why if you wanted to develop apps...you just would not put up a lab of GigE switches.


Now if you wanted to test deploy apps that is something different.


seven


 

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:30:08 PM
re: US Aims for 1-Gig Broadband

True, the emphasis is on the apps. But you have to have the network in place first. They understand that point.... don't they?  Uh-oh.


The press materials did spell out the 300Mbit/s Verizon FiOS contribution -- definitely below 1Gbit/s. Maybe "1Gbit/s" is meant in the spirit of broadband/mobile speed advertisements...


Anyway, yes, I agree that the central goal here is about nurturing the applications and services, and less about getting 1Gbit/s to my doorstep tomorrow.

joanengebretson 12/5/2012 | 5:30:12 PM
re: US Aims for 1-Gig Broadband

It seems to me that US Ignite is mostly about the apps & less about the network. There's really not a lot of focus on new network investment but more on what you can do with the network. I think it's a good idea to get a lot of potential ultra-high-speed broadband users together to share ideas about how to make the most of the network -- & that's mostly what this initiative seems to be about. The government is one of the potential broadband users but certainly not the only one.

AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:30:16 PM
re: US Aims for 1-Gig Broadband

Looks like the WH is trying to organize the Gigabit tech community. CJSettles is probably right that there are potential pros + cons (and I'd add, some politics) in play here.

CJSettles 12/5/2012 | 5:30:16 PM
re: US Aims for 1-Gig Broadband

Here's my take on what US Ignite means (could mean) for broadband - http://bit.ly/K4OUiD. Later today I will have several partners in the US Ignite program on my radio show, Gigabit Nation - http://bit.ly/NA59Kv. The show will be archived if you can't catch it live.

jggveth 12/5/2012 | 5:30:18 PM
re: US Aims for 1-Gig Broadband The killer app here is surveillance. Awesome times we live in.
craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 5:30:19 PM
re: US Aims for 1-Gig Broadband

Reminds me of one of the big lies: "We're from the government and we're here to help you." 

macemoneta 12/5/2012 | 5:30:21 PM
re: US Aims for 1-Gig Broadband

I can get 1Gbps service now, just not at a price I can afford.  While other countries have a pricepoint under $50 USD for 1Gbps (with comparable cost of living), in the U.S., that's unheard of.


Targetting a 1Gbps data rate without a price is as useless as Verizon's 300Mb service at over $200/month.  It only address the 1% of the 1% that can afford it and have enough technical knowledge to care.

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