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Julius Genachowski's Assessment of US Leadership in Broadband

FCC Chairman: Broadband Goals are Speed, Capacity, and Ubiquity

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In a major broadband policy speech delivered at VOX Media headquarters in Washington DC, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski delivered a major broadband policy speech which could be characterized as an assessment of the FCC's role in advancing wide ranging goals in U.S. broadband deployment. This article will summarize his remarks at the VOX Media events, and we will examine his assessment of the United States' leadership in the area of broadband deployment and the development of broadband policies. During his remarks at VOX Media headquarters he broke down the many complex factors in National Broadband Strategy to three primary goals: Speed, Capacity, and Ubiquity.

Julius Genachowski's Assessment of US Leadership in Broadband. FCC Chairman: Broadband Goals Advanced, but Challenges Remain

The major emphasis of Chairman Genachowski's remarks at VOX Media headquarters were primarily about the United States regaining a leadership position in broadband. From Chairman Genachowski's speech:

Now and over the next decade, U.S. leadership will require a strategic bandwidth advantage – fast, high-capacity, and ubiquitous broadband. To secure this advantage for our country, the private and public sectors both have important roles. Seizing the opportunities of big bandwidth will bring enormous benefits; failure to do so will have real and negative consequences.

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As the Obama administration's first term in office draws to a close, Chairman Genachowski cited the success of many FCC initiatives in the area of broadband expansion and policy. His remarks covered policy initiatives from wireless broadband spectrum management, Universal Service Fund reform, broadband innovation and application development, rural broadband access, and the release of the National Broadband Plan. In addition to the major policy successes he claims under his watch, he also cited the challenges which remain.

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While it is too early to assess the level of success of these efforts on overall broadband deployment, and the resulting position of the United States in global broadband deployment, Chairman Genachowski's assessment of the primary goals which must be sustained are difficult to refute. The U.S. has traditionally ranked much lower than many other G7 countries in terms of access, speeds, and national policy initiatives, and it is difficult to measure impact of national broadband policies while they are still being fully implemented

From Chairman Genachowski's remarks about the three basic principles of national broadband strategy:

Speed."Start with faster speeds. Speed matters because innovators need next-generation speed for next-generation innovations – genetic sequencing for cancer patients, immersive and creative software to help children learn, ways for small businesses to take advantage of Big Data, and speed- and capacity-heavy innovations we can’t even imagine.

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Businesses and consumers need high speeds to take advantage of services like cloud computing, which can make every smartphone, tablet, and laptop capable of harnessing the power of the world’s latest supercomputers and capable of accessing the petabytes of vast data centers.

As President Obama has said: “To lead the world to a new future of productivity and prosperity … we have to connect all of America to 21st century infrastructure [and] raise the standards for broadband speed.”

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Capacity. "We are experiencing a revolution in how we consume and generate data. The Internet used to be a text-heavy web site on a computer screen. Today it’s streaming video on your TV set, your smartphone, your tablet – video conferencing, telework, cloud storage, and more

Look at SBNation. Most of its content when it got off the ground was static text, a few pictures, on a network of blogs. More and more, SBNation is creating high-bandwidth video content. Across all of VOX Media’s sites, the number of videos being posted is up 1,200% over the past year.

This explosion of online video and other high-bandwidth applications and services is leading Internet users to consume more and more data every month.

To maximize the opportunities of broadband for our economy, consumers need sufficient monthly broadband capacity to make e-commerce routine and unconstrained.

To maximize the opportunities of broadband for education, health care, and other important national goals, consumers need sufficient monthly broadband capacity so that families with school age children won’t have to fight over who gets to use the Internet for homework this week; a distance learner can take a full course load online; and a senior with diabetes can have regular online video consultations with a doctor in another town."

Ubiquity. "By ubiquity I mean this: Broadband should be available anywhere, anytime.

This means that our fastest, latest wireless broadband networks should cover at least 98% of the country as the President set as a goal; that no American should be without a robust home broadband option; and that we must change the fact that nearly 1 in 3 Americans remains unconnected at home.

The phrase “universal broadband” is often used to cover these concepts – I’m using “ubiquity” today to emphasize the increasingly important role of mobile broadband.

What’s the goal in focusing on speed, capacity and ubiquity? Removing bandwidth and location as constraints on innovation."

The success of the Obama administration and the FCC under Chairman Genachowski's leadership will take further analysis and time to assess important broadband metrics and ranking them globally over several cycles. However, Chairman Genachowski's remarks about the importance of speed, capacity, and ubiquity in the success of any broadband strategy is indisputable.

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