Broadband Communities

NOV-DEC 2013

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT A Gigabit Garden Begins to Grow A status report on the network projects created under the Gig.U umbrella, together with lessons learned for communities that want to launch similar eforts By Blair Levin and Ellen Satterwhite / Gig.U L et's start with a question: Is the wireline network that serves your community good enough to meet your needs 10 years from now? If the answer is "yes," you're in luck because we can guarantee you will be able to have that network. If the answer is "no," what are you going to do about it? If current trends continue, what your community has today might well be what it has a decade hence. Te question should be answered now. Upgrading or deploying a new network is not a next-day event. Planning, permitting, constructing and all the other phases take years. Several years ago, some communities answered that question with a "no" and decided to do something about it. Tose early plantings are beginning to sprout. GENESIS OF THE GIGABIT GARDEN Te roots of the current efort to upgrade wireline broadband networks lie in an analysis done as part of the 2010 National Broadband Plan. A review of the publicly announced broadband investments revealed that, for the frst time since the beginning of the commercial Internet, there was no national wireline provider with a plan to build a better network than the currently best available network. Further analysis suggested that as cable's DOCSIS 3.0 architecture provided cable with both a faster network (excepting Verizon FiOS territories, which cover about 15 percent of the country) and a cheaper upgrade path, the current investment math was unlikely to lead to the 80 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | deployment of world-leading networks in the United States. In the short term, lack of such networks may not be signifcant. But in the long term, the analysis suggested, it was important that the United States had the human capital that knows how to design, build, operate and innovate on top of not just good networks but the best networks in the world. Only with that kind of human capital would the United States retain the innovation leadership that will fnd ways to improve business services, health care, education and many other sectors. At the same time, communities across the country that wish to lead in the development of the bandwidth-delivered economy were coming to understand that they needed demand-leading networks – networks that supply the kind of bandwidth beyond that generally needed by most consumers today, networks that remove bandwidth as a constraint to innovation. Tough the plan did not lay out an efective strategy for deploying such networks, the goal of a critical mass of communities with worldleading networks was embraced by Google and led to the Google Fiber project. More than 1,100 communities applied for the Google Fiber network, demonstrating a deep understanding of the beneft of a world-leading network for community economic and social development. A subset of those applicants – communities with major research universities – decided to organize the Gig.U project to determine whether, by working together, they could accelerate the deployment of such networks. | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013

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