FCC Chair Wants Gigabit Internet Access In All 50 States By 2015

This is not a photo of me (I WISH I still had hair like that), but is actually FCC Chair Julius Genachowski.

This is not a photo of me (I WISH I still had hair like that), but is actually FCC Chair Julius Genachowski.

With some critics claiming the U.S. is falling behind other developed nations in access to high-speed Internet, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has announced the “Gigabit City Challenge,” hoping to get at least one city in each state to offer gigabit Internet access by 2015.

“American economic history teaches a clear lesson about infrastructure. If we build it, innovation will come,” said Genachowski today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting. “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.”

Thanks to Google Fiber, folks in the Kansas City area have access to gigabit Internet, which offers about 100 times the speed of standard high-speed fixed broadband and should allow for streaming of multiple HD videos along with other uses that currently hog bandwidth. According to the Fiber to the Home Council, there are a total of 42 communities in 14 states that have ultra-high-speed fiber access.

The FCC also sees gigabit Internet access as a way to spur innovation and allow new businesses to grown and flourish.

Of course, these higher-speed networks work better if the people on the other end of the line also have gigabit access. So to encourage communities to take part in the Challenge, the FCC 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 agency will also be holding workshops that bring together broadband providers with state and local officials to discuss how to create gigabit communities.

“To meet Genachowski’s aggressive goal, we’ll need to see a lot more providers than Google step up their game in the next few years,” writes TheVerge’s Nathan Ingraham. “Of course, this will take a lot of cooperation between broadband providers and local government, but hopefully the FCC can help push this plan along.”