Cisco Planning Ultrafast 1Gbps Broadband Network

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

Google’s plan to build an ultrafast broadband network could be facing some competition after reports suggest that Cisco Systems is readying plans for its own 1Gbps broadband network

Cisco Systems is reportedly readying a plan that will see it work with internet service providers (ISPs) to build a 1Gbps broadband network, according to several media reports.

Cisco’s move in some ways mirrors a recent move of Google, which on 10 February said it plans to build broadband networks that run at 1Gbps in several regions around the United States.

However, unlike Google – which was seen as taking on established service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon – Cisco is working with the ISPs, many of which are Cisco customers, according to unnamed sources quoted by The Financial Times and Reuters.

Cisco officials are expected to announce the company’s plans during a Webcast on 9 March. In announcing the event, Cisco said its news “will forever change the Internet and its impact on consumers, businesses and governments.”

The networking giant’s move also dovetails with the federal government’s efforts to expand the reach of broadband throughout the country. The Obama administration designated more than $7 billion (£4.6 billion) in federal stimulus money for broadband projects, and on 17 March, the Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to release its National Broadband Plan laying out how to bring affordable broadband to most of the more than 93 million Americans who don’t have such access.

Federal officials have said expanding the reach of broadband – and ramping up broadband speed – are economic imperatives if the United States is to remain competitive with other countries such as Japan and France, both of which are ahead in terms of broadband adoption rates.

The FCC is pushing ahead with its goal of building networks with speeds of 100Mbps for 100 million homes by 2020, an expectation that is sure to raise the pressure on current service providers to ramp up the speed of their networks.

In fall 2009, FCC officials said it could cost as much as $350 billion (£288 billion) to upgrade current networks and build new ones to reach the organisation’s goal.

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