White House Launches High-Speed Broadband Initiative

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President Barack Obama tomorrow is officially launching US Ignite, a high-speed broadband initiative involving government, industry and nonprofit organizations. Comcast and Verizon are among almost 100 partners cited by the White House Wednesday.

Separately, the President signed an executive order Wednesday adopting a "dig once" approach to deploying broadband infrastructure "to make broadband construction along federal roadways and properties up to 90 percent cheaper and more efficient."

That order "will ensure that agencies charged with managing federal properties and roads take specific steps to adopt a uniform approach for allowing broadband carriers to build networks on and through those assets and speed the delivery of connectivity to communities, businesses and schools."

US Ignite will partner corporate and nonprofit entities in 25 cities to "create a national network of communities and campuses with ultra-fast, programmable broadband services, operating at speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second' in what sounds like a national version of the Gigabit U project motormanned by former FCC broadband czar Blair Levin.

Both efforts are meant to lower broadband development costs and accelerate development of applications to take advantage of all that speedy broadband, as well as drive its deployment.

According to the White House, Comcast and Verizon are among US Ignite's network partners, who will be announcing new pilot programs in some cities in their service areas.

The White House said that a "quickly growing" number of commercial partners have agreed to join the US Ignite effort.

The National Science Foundation is the lead agency for US Ignite, which will expand on the four-year, $40 million Global Environment for Networking Innovations project, which currently links more than a dozen universities. pledging to put another $20 million toward the effort.

Comcast "will work with participant universities and the vendor community to jointly develop and test next-generation applications in Comcast's lab in partnership with US Ignite," said the White house.

The White House said that a "quickly growing" number of commercial partners have agreed to join the US Ignite effort.

The National Science Foundation is the lead agency for US Ignite, which will expand on the 4-year, $40 million Global Environment for Networking Innovations project, which currently links more than a dozen universities. pledging to put another $20 million toward the effort.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration says that six of the companies building or upgrading plant with Recovery Act broadband grant money -- Merit Network, UTOPIA, Utah Education Network, Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband, and Internet2 -- are joining US Ignite.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and a big proponent of the 'dig once' approach to broadband deployment, hailed the announcement.

""Broadband deployment is key to growing our nation's economy, creating jobs, and expanding the overall well-being of our citizens," said Waxman. "Efficient use of federal lands and facilities along with prudent planning of new infrastructure projects will promote the expansion of broadband with significant cost savings to the American taxpayer. In particular, the Executive Order's ‘dig once' provision draws from a recommendation in the National Broadband Plan and legislation introduced by Congresswoman [Anna] Eshoo (D-Calif.) that I co-sponsored, and I am pleased to support it. This is a win for the American people, and I commend the Administration for moving forward on these issues."

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