One of the last initiatives by former FCC chmn Julius Genachowski is the Gigabit City Challenge, calling for at least 1 gigabit community in all 50 states by ’15. As communities up their speed game, other issues affecting broadband quality like latency, transition to IPv6 and WiFi deployment shouldn’t be overlooked, panelists said at a Broadband Breakfast briefing Tues. Latency matters to apps and services like telesecurity and gaming, said Scott Wallsten, vp for research at Technology Policy Institute, a think tank focusing on economics of technology. As speeds steadily increase, so is latency, he said, citing various broadband speed reports: “We are focusing on speed potentially at the expense of everything else." He said it’s uncertain which broadband quality attributes matter most for innovation, and it’s important for policymakers to learn the answer rather than setting “arbitrary goals” for one attribute.
Low latency is also critical to next generation video conferencing, which will change the way patients interact with health care providers, said William Wallace, exec dir, US Ignite, which develops gigabit-ready experiences and applications. Comcast Cable svp Kevin McElearney said the more the industry gets to next generation networks, “there are more things you need to focus on than just the last mile." He said the technology to deliver faster speeds is there, adding “as demand (for faster speeds) comes in, we have the capability to deliver.” Meanwhile, he said accelerating the transition to IPv6 is just as important as increasing the speeds, noting that Comcast has already rolled out the new IP address standard to half of its sub base and plans to roll it out to its entire footprint next year.