Originally published: February 18, 2013
Last updated: February 18, 2013 - 6:47pm
[Commentary] A few weeks ago, a tremor was felt in the Force as Federal Communications Commission Chairman Genachowski announced his Gigabit City Challenge – an initiative to get at least one citywide gigabit network per state by 2015. The range of responses went from cautious optimism to “is this the best we can do? and a range ” Meanwhile, as we were getting our heads round the Challenge, the Empire, um, incumbent telcos, struck back last week in Georgia with a an anti muni network bill that appears reasonable, but would kill hopes for a gig city in the Peach State. Windstream, AT&T and Georgia’s other incumbents are incapable of delivering gigabit services, so they have taken the easy way out and lobbied the legislature to kill cities’ ability to do so. Meanwhile, most of the gigabit networks elsewhere are run or being built by muni governments and public utilities, with just a few private companies leading gig projects. Even the most ardent community broadband supporters, while happy the FCC’s gigabit challenge, believe the devil is in the details. Sure, quite a few fiber networks have moved past the planning stage. But it’s going to take hard work to meet the FCC challenge. Some of the hurdles are money-related. Others come from broadband policies and legislation that need to be approved, or improved, or as is the case in Georgia, flat out rejected.
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