IEEE-USA reports gigabit networks should be U.S. priority

The U.S. should make it a national priority to deploy widespread wired and wireless gigabit networks, according to a new white paper from the IEEE-USA’s Committee on Communications and Information Policy (CCIP). IEEE-USA is a division of the international Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).


The U.S. should make it a national priority to deploy widespread wired and wireless gigabit networks, according to a new white paper from the IEEE-USA ’s Committee on Communications and Information Policy (CCIP). IEEE-USA is a division of the international Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

The report, "Providing Ubiquitous Gigabit Networks in the United States" states that the U.S. must act promptly to ensure that a new generation of broadband networks “of gigabit per second speed” is ubiquitous and available to all. It adds that failure to act will "relegate the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure to an inferior competitive position" and undermine the U.S. economy’s future.

"Priority deployment of gigabit networks is essential for the U.S. to maintain its world leadership in the knowledge economy," says Dr. John Richardson, IEEE life fellow and CCIP member. "Information drives our lives and our prosperity. The problem is that current networks aren't fast enough to distribute that information properly.”

Digital data rates, or speeds, are typically expressed as megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps). A megabit is one million bits, while a gigabit is one billion bits. Current broadband networks, such as DSL or cable modems, have an asymmetric speed of about 2 Mbps. Gigabit networks are capable of digital rates 50 to 5,000 times faster, with equal upstream and downstream speed. Symmetric speed means information can be downloaded and uploaded at the same rate. With asymmetric systems, upstream speeds lag behind downstream delivery rates.

IEEE-USA adds that omnipresent U.S. gigabit networks are readily achievable by deploying fiber-optic and high-speed wireless, and would bring numerous benefits. These include providing the U.S. economy with superior ability to compete globally; stimulating economic activity in digital home entertainment; enhancing online education and training; and facilitating health care remote diagnoses and consultation via telemedicine.

Congress, executive branch, and private-sector initiatives can help the nation compete globally and improve its quality of life by adopting "principles leading to ubiquitous, symmetric gigabit availability as a national priority," according to the CCIP white paper. Some of these principles include regulatory flexibility and encouragement of user-owned networks. Click here for a pdf of the report .

"The key fact of modern telecommunications is the convergence of voice, data, image and video into digital bit streams," adds Richardson, a formerchief scientist at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. "We need faster networks to carry these bit streams to users. Broadband speed and penetration in the U.S. are pitiful compared to levels in Japan and South Korea. This means that U.S. prosperity is at risk because it depends, in large part, on fast and easy exchange of information."

—Jim Montague, news editor, Control Engineering,

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