updated 11:35 am EST, Tue February 16, 2010
FCC 100 Squared wants 100Mbps in 100m homes
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski at a conference today launched (PDF) an effort to boost the speed of Internet access in the US to 100Mbps and higher. Dubbed 100 Squared, it would provide at least 100Mbps access to 100 million homes in the US. The official didn't give a timetable for the rollout but hoped it would boost adoption of broadband from 65 percent today to 90 percent.
The ongoing National Broadband Plan is expected to help out and, among other plans, would gradually repurpose the Universal Service Fund from phone lines to Internet connections. Genachowski also warned that the US shouldn't stop at the symbolic 100Mbps and pointed to the Google Fiber project's 1Gbps as an example of what could be done by a motivated private company.
Significant obstacles exist for the plan and primarily center on technology. Current cable modem service often peaks at 25Mbps and is typically expensive at this rate; new DOCSIS 3.0 modems can reach 100Mbps but are only available in a few areas and are so far only served 50Mbps connections. Verizon is the best prepared with its fiber optic FiOS network but would need to complete more upgrades to reach the 100Mbps speed across most of its network.
Internet providers have also traditionally been resistant to any moves to supply broadband to many rural areas that would be needed to reach the 90 percent coverage target, going so far as to sponsor "astroturf" (fake grassroots) organizations and engaging in frequent lobbying to discourage mandates for service in these areas. The advent of 4G is expected to mitigate some of this as it substantially lowers the cost of covering a remote area, although LTE and similar standards may provide much less than 100Mbps in practice.