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  • FTTH Council Calls for '100-Megabit Nation'
Mar 2007
LAKE OSWEGO, Ore., March 7, 2007 -- Underscoring the importance of higher bandwidth to America’s future competitiveness, the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council today urged the US Government to adopt a “100-Megabit Nation” policy aimed at ensuring that next-generation broadband connections are universally available by 2015.

The announcement is in preparation of the council's annual  member meeting, to be held March 12-13 in Washington, where it will promote the proposal. Members will meet with Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and other House and Senate members to express their views on key council issues, including accelerating the video franchising process and removing barriers to municipal broadband systems.

The council proposes that Congress and the president act by the end of 2007 to adopt a strategy and timetable to clear the way for all Americans to gain access to communication services at transmission speeds over 100 megabits per second (Mb/s). While the technology exists today to provide this level of bandwidth, the broadband services currently available to the overwhelming majority of Americans do not exceed 5 Mb/s, the group said in a statement.

It also recommended extending, through private and public sector initiatives, affordable next-generation broadband to a majority of Americans by 2010.

FTTH Council president Joe Savage. He said recent investments by large network operators have shown that a 100-megabit goal is achievable and that such speeds are needed. “When it comes to broadband, America has the need for speed, the need to compete and the technology at hand to make it all happen,” he said.

“Telephone and cable providers are deploying deep-fiber networks delivering far more bandwidth than before -- often multimegabits in both directions," Savage said. "And forward-looking phone companies, municipalities and new home developers are deploying next-generation networks. But at the present rate of buildout, it’s not going to be enough to keep up with America’s growing demand for higher bandwidth applications such as teleconferencing, telemedicine, video sharing and a whole range of information and entertainment services that will be developed over the next few years.

“A 100-Megabit Nation may seem like a luxury today,” he said. “But it won’t be long before it will be an absolute necessity. We’ve got to work now to bring down the barriers that are hindering access to higher bandwidth.”

International competitiveness is a key factor to consider, according to the council.

“Other nations are deploying lightening-fast broadband networks that have the potential to leave America’s available systems in the dust if we don’t upgrade quickly,” said Leonard Ray, chairman of the council’s government relations committee. “In Japan, Korea and a number of European countries, fiber-to-the-home networks and 100 megabit connections are increasingly common. America must accelerate its broadband connectivity.”

A number of corporate leaders have also called for faster networks. In January, during his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Dell Computer CEO Michael Dell discussed the need for more high-speed fiber in the US.

Along with its call for a 100-Megabit Nation, the FTTH Council suggests continued video franchise reform, an end to restrictions on municipal broadband, financial incentives, the reauthorization of the Rural Utilities Service broadband loan program and Congressional oversight on video content access concerns. The FTTH Council also encourages policymakers to hear from a wide range of stakeholders in order to incorporate an effective broadband strategy.

The FTTH Council, now in its sixth year, has members from municipalities, utilities, developers, and  traditional and nontraditional service providers. Its board includes representatives of Corning Inc., On Trac Inc., ADC Telecommunications and Alcatel-Lucent.

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