FCC Narrowly Misses Its Gigabit Deployment Goal

by Karl Bode

Back in 2013, then FCC boss Julius Genachowski issued a “1 Gbps challenge”: basically a pledge to ensure there was at least one gigabit network operating in all fifty states by 2015. As we noted at the time it was kind of a show pony goal; notorious fence-sitter Genachowski was simply setting a goal he knew the industry would probably meet with or without’s government help, so that government could come in at a later date and insist it played an integral role.

Well, 2015 has come and gone, and while there is at least one gigabit network planned for every state, we narrowly missed Genochowski’s goal by most estimates:


We combed through our archives and other online resources and, by our tally, at least one network operator has announced plans to offer gigabit service in every state. Not all of these networks are actually deployed or supporting service yet. But generally network operators don’t announce specific markets more than a year or two in advance of when they expect to deliver service.

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Connect America Fund Threatens Rural States’ Telephone Subsidies

Aberdeen, South Dakota
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Jonathan Charnitski, Reporter, BroadbandBreakfast.com

WASHINGTON, November 29, 2010 – As the next phases of the National Broadband Plan draw near, states with significant rural area have expressed concern that they may lose funds vital to affordable telephone service.

The plan’s Chapter 8 outlines recommendations to provide affordable broadband internet access to all Americans. Part of that chapter recommends the creation of the Connect America Fund. The CAF would fund deployment of broadband to unserved and underserved populations, much as the Universal Service Fund provided the economic means to provide telephone service to all Americans.

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GAO Report Sees Tough Implementation of National Broadband Plan

BroadbandBreakfast.com Staff, BroadbandBreakfast.com

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WASHINGTON, October 13, 2010 – The United States plans to take actions to promote broadband similar to other nations, but achieving those goals will be challenging, says a new government report.

The Government Accountability Office looked at the plan offered by the Federal Communications Commission and how it reflects the experiences of leading countries on the issue. It found that the United States has a tough road ahead.

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Citizens Against Public Waste Call Broadband a Luxury Not a Necessity

Technically I agree with Mr. William’s assertion that broadband services (Internet access and video services) are not a necessity…currently.  Sending and receiving e-mail or posting the satisfaction of your latest latté are not necessities nor are they guaranteed in our Constitution.  Then again neither is health care, but it now considered a human right so the current administration saw it fit to make sure that every citizen has it.

Electricity was not considered a necessity at the beginning of the twentieth century, but many communities saw its utility to stimulate their economy.  Now electricity IS a necessity because there are several life-sustaining devices that require electricity to operate.  Citizens subsidize the rates of the poor and elderly to provide them electricity.  Telephone service suffered the same fate.  It transformed from being a luxury to a matter of public safety;  thus, the Universal Service Fund.

Now we are undergoing the same debate on broadband services.  We are at the point on the adoption curve where it is going beyond a toy for nerds and geeks to playing a vital role in the economic vitality of a community.  The economic and social benefits of broadband services are well documented which bring it beyond the point of being called a luxury for the rich.  Communities should decide on the local level whether they would like to expend funds to build a broadband network if they feel that the incumbent service providers are not doing a satisfactory job.  Remember that much like water, roads, sewer, and electricity, the market for broadband services is not typically competitive in most communities.  There are typically one or two different service providers in a community.

Many communities are struggling to keep businesses and citizens in their community.  They seek ways to drive economic activity and a good broadband network is one way to accomplish that goal.  The most successful communities in this endeavor are not actually providing services, but offer open-access to any service provider that wants to sell services in their community.  The service provider purchases access from the municipality which supports the operation, maintenance, and growth of the networks.  Some communities are even seeing a net positive flow into their general fund;  therefore, building a broadband network can be done without wasteful government spending.  Before you know it, broadband networks will be necessity for the health, eduction, and safety of its citizens.

BroadbandBreakfast.com Staff, BroadbandBreakfast.com

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2010 – Speaking in a webcast by the Broadband Policy Series this afternoon, David Williams of Citizens Against Public Waste said that there “wouldn’t be any circumstances in which government should step in” where community broadband is concerned. According to Williams, even when local governments step in, there tends to be a centralizing process by which one locality wants the same services as another locality, thus evolving the process to a Federal level.

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Pew Center on the States Highlights Importance of State Agencies in Broadband

The Pew Center on the States has it right that the implementation of broadband networks is more of a local issue than a national issue even though as a fact the U.S. has fallen behind as a country.  The federal government’s involvement should be to create policies that encourage the building of broadband networks and to remove any impediments that may be erected at state and local levels.  The BIP and BTOP funding should serve as a catalyst to drive deployments and try different business models, not complete subsidize deployments.  Each state and locality has unique needs and should be free to develop solutions to meet those needs.  There is no single technology or business model that can be utilized across the country.  Even the Bell System had local engineering centers that designed their local access networks using several Bell Labs approved technologies when they were appropriate.  Funding broadband networks on the national level will require Congressional involvement.  Anyone that understands how the appropriation of transportation funds works realizes that projects are funded based on political clout and less on need.  If left at the federal level, broadband funding will be subject to the same process.  The economic and geographic diversity across this country necessitates the need for the solution to our national problem to be resolved on a local level.

WASHINGTON June 30, 2010-The Pew Center on the States has just released a report on the importance of state government involvement in broadband. In essence the report aims to show the varied efforts that the states are making to expand broadband. Additionally they give a brief explanation of why the national purposes set out by the National Broadband Plan are important.

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Will Reclassification Derail FCC’s Broadband Plan?

This was another great event sponsored by Silicon Flatirons but there was really nothing new said that has not been already written.  The cable companies politely object to a potential change in regulation while supporting the National Broadband Plan.  Many panelists tossed around the statement that there is 95% broadband penetration in the U.S. which is a number that is highly suspect.  I am more inclined to trust the OECD numbers more.

LONE TREE, Colo. — Some at the top level of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may believe a new legal framework for its authority over broadband services will help keep its ambitious National Broadband Plan afloat, but some cable industry policy pundits wonder if the move might produce the opposite effect.

The FCC’s reclassification effort could “totally sidetrack [the Commission] from getting some pieces of the broadband plan done,” warned Steve Morris, VP and associate general counsel of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) , a speaker Thursday afternoon here at a “Future of Cable” conference hosted by the Colorado Cable Telecommunications Association and Silicon Flatirons, a law and tech center based at the University of Colorado. (See NCTA Reacts to FCC NOI.)

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Broadband Issues Echo Electrification Debate of Decades Ago

The analogy to rural electrification that Adelstein makes is apt because just like electricity, broadband services are vital to the growth of all communities.  The other parallel is that deployment of broadband is a local matter.  Once again this administration is saying the right things but not following up with any action.  The National Broadband Plan has some nice goals, but there is little discussion of implementation.  Subsequent discussions at the FCC revolve around continuing to milk the ability of the copper in the ground.  Yes that will increase rural penetration somewhat cost-effectively at the expense of being behind in bandwidth delivered.  We need to build these networks targeting mid-century needs, not 20th century needs.

Mytheos Holt, Reporter-Researcher, BroadbandBreakfast.com

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2010 – Today’s broadband expansion throughout the United States faces similar challenges to wiring the nation with electricity decades ago, and the nation’s businesses, consumers and government must work together to tap into the resources that high-speed internet access offers.

In the keynote address prior to BroadbandBreakfast.com’s panel on challenges to adoption and availability of rural broadband, Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein stressed a number of areas where his agency could improve its broadband outreach, while offering a vision for the future and a historical context for the present debate.

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