WASHINGTON, July 23, 2013 — The Fiber to the Home Council Americas released its proposal to the Federal Communications Commission for a Gigabit Communities Race to the Top Program on Tuesday. FTTH Council Americas held a media conference call discussing the proposal and highlighting the success of Kansas City, which already has a gigabit network.
Heather Gold, President of FTTH Council Americas, described the details of the program, which is based on a similar program enacted by President Barack Obama in 2009 dealing with education grants. Communities will submit their plans for gigabit networks, and the most innovative proposals will receive up to $10 million in grant money.
Gold hopes that the program will provide 15 grants each year over a period of five years, at which point the program would sunset. The goal is to establish a critical mass of ultra-high speed networks to spur the further construction of such networks throughout the country.
Several officials from Kansas City also participated in order to describe the benefits that the gigabit network has brought to the city. Former Mayor Joe Reardon noted that small businesses in the community were able to take advantage of the new technology and create a number of new jobs. He stated that access to such a high speed network is crucial for cities across the country to maximize their economic growth.
Mike Burke, Advisory Council Co-Chair of KC Digital Drive also spoke on his experience working with the task force to create a “playbook” for applications of the gigabit fiber network. He stated that he realized early in his work that the project’s focus should not be on the technology itself but on the way it fits with community need.
One such community need was provided in the form of telemedicine, partly through the work of Morgan Walker, Director of Telemedicine and Gig App Developer for Children’s Mercy Hospital. The app she designed allowed medical information to be shared among a patient, doctor, and a third party such as a parent or attorney.
Walker also emphasized the importance of telemedicine as a solution to the problem of access, particularly in terms of connecting people with particular problems with the specialists they need.