FTTH Council wants FCC to launch gigabit challenge

The Fiber to the Home Council Americas wants the Federal Communications Commission  to launch a "Gigabit Communities Race to the Top" program and jumpstart the development of ultra-high speed applications for gigabit connections.  The FTTH Council modeled the program after the Obama Administration's Race to the Top education initiative and calls for matching grants of up to $10 million for projects in Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets.

According to the FTTH Council, the Race to the Top program will complement the FCC's E-rate program. Last week the commission called for a modernization of the E-rate program. Specifically, the FCC said it wanted increased broadband capacity, cost-effective purchasing, and streamlined program administration.

Launched in 1997, E-rate has connected 97 percent of U.S. libraries and schools to the Internet, the FCC reports. But many need to update those connections to meet 2013 demands.

The FTTH Council said its Race to the Top program will provide competitive grants to support deployment and innovation in areas of the country left behind. In addition, it will advance the goals of the National Broadband Plan as determined by former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Here are the specifics of the program:

The FCC would select the most meritorious proposals and provide winners with up to $10 million in funds, to be matched by state and private sources.

The program would be funded by unused support in the Connect America Fund programs targeting areas serviced by price cap local exchange carriers and would be distributed each year for five years beginning in 2014.

Applications would have to provide symmetric gigabit service to anchor community institutions and neighboring areas in a given area.

Projects will be favored if they serve a broad range of anchor community institutions and provide interactivity between the institutions as well as surrounding neighborhoods.

For more:
- see this press release

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