May 15, 2013 - Gigabit-level connectivity is all the rage. It seems that everyone is asking, What Can Gigabit Do for Me?
More and more companies and communities -- from established communications companies to new market entrants -- have announced plans for deployment that cross that psychological Gigabit-level threshold.
But its also important to ask: from a consumer perspective, what's the difference between being able to receive 1,000 Megabits per second (or a Gigabit, on other words), and the ability for a consumer to receive 100, 200 or 300 Megabits per second?
The 100+ Mbps club includes many of the nation's major cable operators, including Comcast, which has effectively deployed DOCSIS 3.0 across its entire national broadband footprint. This next-generation cable modem technology enables at least 150 Mbps of download speeds. Even that number, at 150 Mbps, is far more than that for which consumers have found the need.
Among established telecommunications companies, Verizon's Fiber Optic Service is now available at speeds of up to 300 Mbps. Those kinds of speed are now available to more than 13 million consumers in nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, plus parts of Florida, Texas, California and the District of Columbia.
As the National Broadband Map has demonstrated, broadband speeds and availability have been steadily increasing over the past four years. This is due to DOCSIS 3.0, to FiOS, and to a dramatic uptick in the adoption of the wireless LTE technologies.
When it comes to the fastest speeds, wireless plays second-fiddle. And cities across the county that want the maximum bang for their buck in economic development are flocking to Kansas City -- the site of Google Fiber's first Gigabit class build -- to see what lessons they can learn.
Following in the footsteps of the Broadband Communities conference last month in Dallas; and the Schools, Health and Library Broadband Coalition in Washington earlier this month; two weeks from now the Fiber to the Home Council will convene in Kansas City around the enticing theme, "From Gigabit Envy to Gigabit Deployed."
At the next Broadband Breakfast Club in Washington, on Tuesday, May 21, we'll also consider the theme of the Gigabit Nation. Here's our twist on the subject matter: How different is Gigabit-level connectivity from 100 or 200 or 300 Mbps-level connectivity?
While cities like Kansas City, Chattanooga and Lafayette, Louisiana, have built Gigabit Networks, are they getting anything more for their troubles? Or will the label "Gigabit" simply be the latest telecommunications fad to pass through?
Perhaps one key answer lies in the realm of applications development. What high-bandwidth applications are necessary to make a Gigabit City work? And how can lessons learned in one city be shared with others?
We're very excited about the panel of experts that we have assembled for the Broadband Breakfast Club on Tuesday, May 21:
- Sheldon Grizzle, Founder & Co-Director, GIGTANK in Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Kevin McElearney, Senior Vice President, Network Engineering & Technical Operations, Comcast Cable
- David Sandel, President, Gigabit Communities and Smart Cities, Sandel & Associates
- William Wallace, Executive Director, US Ignite
- Scott J. Wallsten, Vice President for Research & Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Institute
More information and registration is available at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com. I'll be moderating the discussion next Tuesday, and I look forward to seeing you at the Broadband Breakfast Club in Washington!