updated 03:00 pm EST, Fri January 18, 2013
FCC providing guidance, clearinghouse for information for project
Today at the US Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski called for construction of at least one "gigabit community" similar to Google's Kansas City fiber project, in all 50 states by 2015. Genachowski believes that "establishing gigabit communities nationwide will accelerate the creation of a critical mass of markets and innovation hubs" enabled by the ultra-fast Internet connectivity.
Currently, 42 communities in 14 states are served by fiber optic Internet providers, but many of these installations are not currently at gigabit speeds. To help with the buildout, Chairman Genachowski announced plans to create a new online and publicly assessable clearinghouse to collect and disseminate information about how to reduce costs and increase speed of broadband deployment nationwide.
The builders and financiers of the effort weren't made clear by the statements by the FCC chairman. Current worldwide financial conditions make it unlikely for the effort to be a combined country-wide infrastructure construction effort like the President Eisenhower-championed Interstate Highway System, or financed in its entirety by the government. Fiber pioneers like Verizon, with its FIOS service have sold off or greatly scaled back plans for wide fiber deployment in served markets.
Google is driving adoption of fiber in the previously-mentioned Kansas City fiber optic project, but has not announced any further expansion. Internet service providers and cable television companies often replace damaged copper wiring with fiber on an ad hoc basis, as it can be cheaper and easier, but a true "gigabit community" as laid out by the FCC chairman takes a much larger investment of time and money than just replacing old copper with fiber when demanded by damage.