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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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June 24, 2008 9:33 AM

100Mbps Nation Here We Come - Who's Got the Map?

One of the most resounding messages driven home at yesterday's event that introduced Jim Baller's new e-NC report is the growing consensus that our goal in spurring broadband deployment should be to achieve a 100Mbps Nation.

Setting that goal is one of the primary recommendations of Jim's paper.

At the event, EDUCAUSE president and CEO Diana Oblinger spoke and we were reminded of their recent report setting the same goal.

Also speaking was Stan Fendley, who lobbies for Corning and was representing the FTTH Council. He cited the fact that both the Senate and House have had resolutions introduced that reaching a 100Mbps Nation should be a top national priority.

The reason I find this exciting isn't so much the speed of 100Mbps but instead the fact that we're starting to talk specifics about where we want to be in the next few years. Far too often we seem to talk about policy in action-oriented terms, but if we don't know where we're headed how are we supposed to get there?

This push to a 100Mbps Nation isn't limited to ivory tower discussions inside the Beltway and on Capitol Hill, it's already happening out in the real world.

Verizon's FiOS network has proven capable of delivering 100Mbps to the home, and they seem likely to start offering service soon at that speed.

Comcast has claimed that their networks will soon be able to reach 100Mbps, though it'll be extremely asymmetric and still shared.

Some municipal fiber networks like that being put in by Lafayette Utility System will feature 100Mbps intranets, while others like that of Jackson Energy Authority have the capacity to turn up speeds of a 100Mbps if only they could get cheaper access onto the Internet.

And 100Mbps isn't the be all, end all, as the small greenfield fiber deployer Paxio currently offers its customers speeds up to 1Gbps.

So that's all great. Lots of people talking about bringing 100Mbps to the home, but there's also something missing: how are we going to get 100Mbps to every home?

In areas where the market is working, perhaps we don't need to do anything. If competition is sufficient to incentivize the deployment of 100Mbps, then so be it, we've got nothing to worry about.

But what about everywhere else? Will private dollars get us there or do we need public? If public, how should they be spent: subsidizing private providers, building open access networks, and/or becoming competitors to private industry?

And don't think this is just a rural issue. What about the communities where FiOS is being deployed to some but not all of the homes. How do we reach that goal of 100% deployment?

Even in communities that have competition from private providers or municipal networks, there's still the little problem of making 100Mbps affordable to consumers. I, for one, don't get all that excited about 100Mbps to every home if 100Mbps service still costs hundreds of dollars a month.

Again, it's terrific that we're starting to agree on where we're going, but now we face the real challenge: how are we going to get there?

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