Washington

President Launching US Ignite High Speed Broadband Effort

Comcast is among almost 100 commercial, government and noncom partners committed to program 6/13/2012 02:52:29 PM Eastern

President Barack Obama tomorrow is officially launching US Ignite, a high-speed broadband initiative involving government,
industry and nonprofit organizations. Comcast is one of almost 100 partners
cited by the White House Wednesday.

Separately, the President signed an executive order Wednesday adopting a "dig once" approach to
deploying broadband infrastructure "to make broadband construction along federal
roadways and properties up to 90 percent cheaper and more efficient."

That order "will ensure that agencies charged with
managing federal properties and roads take specific steps to adopt a uniform
approach for allowing broadband carriers to build networks on and through those
assets and speed the delivery of connectivity to communities, businesses and
schools."

US Ignite will partner with corporate and nonprofit entities
in 25 cities "create a national network of communities and campuses with
ultra-fast, programmable broadband services, operating at speeds of up to 1
gigabit per second" in what sounds like a national version of the Gigabit U
project motor-manned by former FCC broadband czar Blair Levin.

Both efforts are meant to lower broadband development costs, and US Ignite is meant to accelerate development of applications to take advantage of all that speedy
broadband.

According to the White House, Comcast and Verizon are among
US Ignite's network partners, who will be announcing new pilot programs in some
cities in their service areas.

Comcast "will work with participant universities and
the vendor community to jointly develop and test next-generation applications
in Comcast's lab in partnership with US Ignite," said the White house.

The White House said that a "quickly growing"
number of commercial partners have agreed to join the US Ignite effort.

The National Science Foundation is the lead agency for US Ignite,
which will expand on the four-year, $40 million Global Environment for
Networking Innovations (GENI) project, which currently links more than a dozen
universities pledging to put another $20 million toward the effort.

The National Telecommunications & Information
Administration says that six of the companies building or upgrading plant with
Recovery Act broadband grant money -- Merit Network, UTOPIA, Utah Education
Network, Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband, and Internet2 -- are joining US
Ignite.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House
Energy & Commerce Committee and a big proponent of the "dig once" approach
to broadband deployment, hailed the announcement.

"Broadband deployment is key to growing our nation's
economy, creating jobs, and expanding the overall well-being of our
citizens," said Waxman. "Efficient use of federal lands and
facilities along with prudent planning of new infrastructure projects will
promote the expansion of broadband with significant cost savings to the
American taxpayer. In particular, the Executive Order's ‘dig once' provision
draws from a recommendation in the National Broadband Plan and legislation
introduced by Congresswoman [Anna] Eshoo (D-Calif.) that I co-sponsored, and I
am pleased to support it. This is a win for the American people, and I
commend the Administration for moving forward on these issues."

March