‘Insatiable appetite’ for internet pushes county to gigabit broadband

‘Insatiable appetite’ for internet pushes county to gigabit broadband

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Even as the Federal Communications Commission plans to revise its definition of high-speed internet upwards, a local leader says governments should aim for even higher speeds than the FCC Chairman’s recent recommendations, given the “the public’s insatiable appetite for bandwidth and speed”.

As of 2015, the FCC defines broadband internet as a connection having a download speed of 25 megabits per second and an upload speed of 3 Mbps. But in July, commission chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel proposed increasing that minimum to 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up.

Clark County, Nevada goes further. It aims to provide every internet user with a 1Gbps connection, county chief information officer Bob Leek said at the Route Fifty technology summit. The faster-than-recommended baseline, he said, is driven by demands for high-speed internet from residents as well as businesses experimenting with new technologies like augmented and virtual reality.

Leek said setting a much higher standard speed now means it won’t need to be overhauled again – for at least a while.

“If we’re going to make this huge investment in infrastructure, we should be thinking about what would build resilience for 30 years,” he said. “We don’t know what it will be like 30 years from now – some sci-fi shows might give us a glimpse of what they’re thinking – but we do know that for residents, visitors and business owners here, they deserve gigabit speed as their connectivity.

The FCC’s current definition of broadband “is not only behind schedule, it’s harmful because it obscures the extent to which low-income neighborhoods and rural communities are being left behind and left offline,” the agency said. President Jessica Rosenworcel in July. A notice of inquiry she circulated among her fellow commissioners set a separate national target of 1 Gbps download speeds and 500 Mbps upload speeds for the future.

Leek said Clark County will achieve its goal by investing heavily in fiber infrastructure because it’s the best way to deliver high-speed access. But he acknowledged there is still a long way to go, as less than 30% of county residents currently have a fiber optic connection and instead rely primarily on access provided by cable companies.

However, Leek noted that there is a “purple ring” of available fiber showing up on broadband availability maps around the city of Las Vegas in some of the new suburban filler communities that have sprung up over the past of the last 20 or 30 years, which he says shows the growth of connectivity.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to installing fiber infrastructure will be the necessary construction in the public right-of-way, something Clark County wants to make more efficient by encouraging “dig it once” policies that are gaining traction. popularity across the country.

Leek said county fiber must be placed underground to avoid the effects of heat and wind, but it is difficult to run underground wiring through impermeable desert rock. He said Clark County would explore microtrenching to install more fiber, like some other cities are trying.

Although regional transit agencies in the county agree to use the right-of-way to install infrastructure, connecting homes remains a challenge. “It’s the last mile problem that we have to solve,” he said.

The federal dollars expected to flow through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act to bolster broadband connectivity create a “tremendous opportunity” to get more people online, Leek said. But he added that local and state governments must work together alongside residents and regional organizations to ensure the rollout happens in the best way possible and ensure there is a “full and inclusive opportunity for people.” to participate fully economically and socially”.

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