At the Broadband Breakfast Club, We’ll Explore ‘What Can Gigabit Do for Me?’

Broadband Data, Broadband's Impact, FCC, Fiber, NTIA, Wireless May 15th, 2013

, Publisher, BroadbandBreakfast.com

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!

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One Response to “At the Broadband Breakfast Club, We’ll Explore ‘What Can Gigabit Do for Me?’”

  1. Michael Elling (@Infostack) Says:

    Speed (capacity and QoS/clarity) is but one aspect of a successful and sustainable GB (gigband) strategy and implementation. Cost and coverage from a supply perspective are also important (not just local, but regional and national). Lessons learned in the transition from web 1.0 (narrowband content, search, messaging) to web 2.0 (broadband video, multimedia and communications) was the critical tipping point of about 40% BB penetration (yes back in 2003-2004 we considered BB to be 2-3 mbs) until apps like Skype and YouTube began taking off. Then social media came and 802.11/3/4G fanned the BB flames and people’s imaginations. So isolated and balkanized implementations of GB will be less successful and sustainable until we have some type of concerted, competitively driven, national approach in place.

    And it’s not just the 4Cs of Supply, but the 4Us of Demand, namely ease of use, usability, ubiquity and universality. Consider these 8 supply/demand elements to be absolutely critical to optimize the ROI for GB networks.

    The bottom line is that until GBs have pricing which reflects marginal cost (achieved by horizontal scaling and cost optimization at every layer and boundary point and then “clearing” that supply/cost across perceived demand a priori), open layer 1-2 business models, and inclusion of wireless and enterprise procurement of edge access, they will provide sub-optimal returns and not be as inclusive and generative as they could be. Google Fiber and Chattanooga EPB are good first efforts (keep in mind their funding sources and scale elements), but they get a “B-” in terms of eventual success as scored by the above 8 facts. Lastly, they need to be rapidly emulated everywhere, otherwise we won’t achieve the network effect that could be truly and dramatically stimulative to our economy and solve our second deficit; the fiscal one.

    I have no farther to look for America’s Broadband Deficit than in NYC, the most tele-dense place on the planet, and I pay $50 for 20/2 mbs connectivity. A national tragedy.

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