The Federal Communications Commission will seek to bring Internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second by 2020 to community institutions such as schools and government buildings, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said on Thursday.
Genachowski said the blueprint will set “dramatic, bold” goals to bring faster Internet speeds to American homes, including 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for 100 million U.S. households by 2020.
But Karl Bode of Broadband Reports is skeptical, while analyst Dave Burnstein says the plan accomplishes very little for affordability, quality, speed, or availability of broadband in the U.S.
Blair Levin, chief author of the National Broadband Plan yesterday defended it against recent attacks that it is overly broad, ambitious and unfeasible, reports Computer World. The final version is set for release March 17.
While the plan is not finalized, various specific pieces of it have been released by FCC officials in recent days, including one that asks TV broadcasters to voluntarily provide airwaves for wireless broadband. Broadcasters (who never paid the government a dime for their frequencies), would share profits gained from broadband use.
In the real world, money talks. The 90 MHz of AWS frequencies raised close to $14 Billion in 2006, while the 52 Mhz of 700MHz spectrum brought in almost $20 Billion for the Treasury, in 2008.
The FCC’s Broadband Plan also calls on Congress to spend up to $16 billion to create radio interoperability among emergency responders and suggests that another $9 billion be spent to extend fast Internet connections to rural areas.
Levin suggested the plan would make broadband Internet service eligible for the Universal Service Fund program. It now focuses on voice telecommunications. He also said the plan will require that Internet service providers offer specific minimum Internet speeds to be eligible for USF monies.
Net neutrality provisions will not be a part of the Broadband Plan, according to Levin, because of a separate FCC Open Internet Initiative. In turn, any legislative recommendations on net neutrality from the Open Internet Initiative will probably be considered by Congress in the Internet Freedom Preservation legislation and related bills.
“A 100 meg is just a dream,” Qwest Chief Executive Edward Mueller told Reuters. “We don’t think the customer wants that.”
Of course 100 Mbps (mobile) and 1 Gbps (fixed) isthe very definition of “4G” by the ITU.
WiMAX 2.0 (due for commercial implementation next year) and LTE Advanced (arriving sometime later), are defined as delivering 100 Mbps (mobile) and 1 Gbps (fixed).
It sounds like a bold initiative on the part of the FCC. But Clearwire already expects to cover 120 million homes in the United States by the end of this year. They’ll move towards WiMAX 2.0 beginning in 2011. The upgrade can deliver up to 120 Mbps out of the box. Beceem’s new BCS500 4G chip supports WiMAX 16e and 16m as well as LTE, while Samsung has operational 802.16m basestations.
Perhaps WiMAX 2.0, which promises a fixed 1 Gbps service, would deliver an effective 100 Mbps (at home) while 100 Mbps (mobile) might deliver an effective 20 Mbps service. That’s about four times the speed of today’s WiMax system and what WiMAX 2 aims to deliver. They’ve got the bandwidth to do it.
The tricky bit is bringing slow moving (but politically powerful) cellular operators up to speed. It’s all about spectrum. If you need three, 20 MHz sectors, that might require some 60 MHz per tower. That’s a total of 180 MHz for three wireless carriers. The UHF band might supply a lot of that bandwidth, especially if broadcasters were moved to VHF Channel 2-13. Not many cities can support more than 10 over-the-air broadcast stations. Unlicensed use of “white spaces” might utilize unused frequencies.
Currently group owners splatter the airwaves on UHF Channels 14 (470-476 Mhz) through Channel 51 (692-698 Mhz). That’s over 200 MHz. Recall that the 50 MHz auctioned from the upper 700MHz band in 2008 brought in nearly $20 Billion. That seems to indicate that 200 Mhz of UHF spectrum would be worth around $80 Billion.
If cellular operators’ complaints about spectrum shortage are to be believed, then an auction of all UHF spectrum could be a windfall that cannot be ignored…by this or any government. And while were at it, why not provide 1 Mbps to every citizen…at no charge. It should be a right of all citizens in the global village. Like clean air. Like tv.
Reuters: Federal Communications Commission will seek to bring Internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second by 2020
Broadband.gov: National Broadband Plan.
Computer World: FCC broadband czar defends national plan.