With what could be termed 2020 foresight, the FCC is aiming for 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for 100 million households by that date. That was the word from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski at a speech to regulatory commissioners Feb. 16. He called that and other broadband plan goals "ambitious but achievable."
At the NARUC Conference in Washington, the chairman staked that high-speed claim (which he called the "100 Squared" initiative) as part of the National Broadband Plan due to Congress March 17.
The chairman made it clear that "meaningful access" to broadband means access to speed, which he said means that for the other 200 million or so, speeds above 2 Mbps is the goal.
Other goals of the plan include a 90% adoption rate for starters--it is currently about 65%--and "digital literacy" by the time every U.S. child graduates from high school.
He also said the U.S. should look beyond those benchmarks to ultra-high speeds. He gave Google a shout-out for its announcement last week of a request for information on a one gigabit-per-second testbed initiative.
"We must lead the world in creating opportunity," Genachowski said. "And unrivaled opportunity means that every American must have access to broadband at a speed sufficient for meaningful use, no matter where they live or how much money they make."
Among the plan's other recommendations are: freeing up more spectrum; using government rights of way to make broadband deployment cheaper; and creating more adoption programs like NCTA's proposed A+ program, which he mentioned by name.
Genachwoski likened broadband deployment to the advent of electricity, moving it beyond the highway system analogy that he suggested was insufficient to convey the "transformative" power of the Internet: "[I]n the 21st century, it is high-speed Internet that is reshaping our economy and our lives more profoundly than any technology since electricity, and with at least as much potential for advancing prosperity and opportunity--creating jobs, and improving our lives."
With that, Genachowski made it clear what he feels is at stake in getting more spectrum, higher speeds, and more affordable broadband to all.