FTTH Council Petitions FCC to Establish “Gigabit Communities Race to the Top” Program

WASHINGTON DC - On the heels of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) vote to begin the process of modernizing the Commission’s E-Rate program to bring ultra-high speed broadband to the nation’s bandwidth-strapped schools and libraries, the Fiber to the Home Council Americas (FTTH Council) submitted a complementary proposal to the Commission, challenging it to establish a "Gigabit Communities Race to the Top" program similar to the "Education Race to the Top" program.

According to Heather Gold, president of the FTTH Council Americas, "With a high-speed fiber-based broadband infrastructure, communities will reach a critical mass where it is the connectivity that is driving the economy."

Modeled on the Obama Administration’s successful "Race to the Top" education grants initiative, the FTTH Council petition sets forth a competitive program of matching grants of up to $10 million for projects in Tier II and Tier III markets where local governments and community anchor institutions would work with service providers to deploy gigabit networks to serve community anchor institutions and their surrounding neighborhoods.

Community Stakeholders Support "Race to the Top"
On hand at a media event to support the Council's proposal were several community stakeholders including Morgan Walker, director of Telemedicine and gig app developer at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, who said. "If you live in a rural community and have a child with asthma but you don't have a pediatrician who specializes in asthma - or maybe you have no pediatrician at all - you don't have good healthcare." She went on to describe how telemedicine supported by ultra high-bandwidth infrastructure can bridge that gap, bringing healthcare in rural communities up to the hgihest current medical standards.

Tom Crawford, CFO, City of Ann Arbor, Mich., explained that Ann Arbor is a university town that brings in over a billion dollars in grants every year, which feeds research as well as the local economy. "Broadband IS the highway in Ann Arbor," he explained. "Without extra effort to push ultra high-speed broadband into small communities, the US is going to lose its competitiveness globally."


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