FCC chairman launches Gigabit City Challenge

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is pushing broadband providers and local governments to launch high-speed Internet services that offer subscribers speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

On Friday, the FCC launched the "Gigabit City Challenge," in which it is calling for at least one community in all 50 states to offer residents speeds of 1 Gbps by 2015. Genachowski unveiled the project during a speech at the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) recently began offering subscribers in Kansas City Internet connections as fast as 1 Gbps through its Google Fiber project. Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) CEO Brian Roberts demonstrated a 1 Gbps Internet connection at The Cable Show convention in 2011, showing attendees how he could download 23 episodes of NBC series 30 Rock in 1 minute and 40 seconds. While Comcast and other cable operators don't offer 1-gig speeds commercially, CableLabs and the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers are developing a DOCSIS 3.1 spec which could help operators one day deliver download speeds of 10 gigabits per second.

Genachowski said the FCC plans to hold workshops for broadband providers as well as municipal and state leaders to drive the Gigabit City Challenge and that the commission will also create an online clearinghouse of best practices for lowering the cost and increasing the speeds for broadband deployments nationwide.

"American economic history teaches a clear lesson about infrastructure. If we build it, innovation will come. 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," Genachowski said Friday.

For more:
- see the FCC release
- CNET has this story

Related articles:
Google Fiber schedules first 1 Gbps installations in Kansas City
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SCTE creates DOCSIS 3.1 working group
CableLabs, SCTE to detail DOCSIS 3.1 moves at Cable-Tec Expo