US FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has unveiled a broadband plan aimed at delivering 100 Mbps connections to 100 million homes.
In a speech to the NARUC Conference in Washington Wednesday, he added that the wider goal is to enable 90% of the US population to have broadband access by 2020, up from 65% today.
At the moment, 14 million US citizens have no access to broadband, he said. “[And] more than 100 million Americans that could and should have broadband don’t have it. Because they can’t afford broadband, don’t know how to use it, or aren’t aware of its potential benefits.”
While Genachowski described his plan as a “2020 vision,” he did not indicate whether that would be the deadline to achieve these targets
Genachowski added that the US should not stop at 100 Mbps. “The US should lead the world in ultra-high-speed broadband testbeds as fast, or faster, than anywhere in the world,” he said.
“Google announced a 1 Gbps testbed initiative just a few days ago - and we need others to drive competition to invent the future.”
Other initiatives encompassed by the plan include accelerating the development of a broadband smart grid; improving the speed of internet connections in schools; public/private partnerships to increase broadband adoption and a recommendation to free up “a significant amount” of spectrum for both licensed and unlicensed use.
GigaOM commentator Stacy Higginbotham said Genachowski's “Hundred squared” initiative sounded impressive, but 55 million Americans already had the infrastructure in place to get 100 Mbps fiber deployments.
“Getting a 100 Mbps pipe to a few million more people over the next decade will happen regardless of the FCC putting it in the National Broadband plan,” she said.
The real challenge will be the related initiatives such as the smart grid and improving access at schools, she added.