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Report: Greater investment needed to realise ‘gigacities’

March 6, 2024

The key criteria required for an urban area to be described as a ‘gigacity’ have been set out in a report released by the World Broadband Association. The whitepaper also provides a set of recommendations for government and regulators to encourage greater fibre deployment.
The creation of gigacities, defined as where the vast majority have access to gigabit internet speeds, is seen by the WBBA as essential to maximising a country’s socioeconomic development. With rapid urbanisation taking place worldwide, gigacity investment can ensure high-speed broadband connectivity even in typically underserved, developing markets. However, current estimates suggest only 26 per cent of households will be gigabit connected by 2028. To ensure a greater number of people benefit from optimal connectivity, government bodies must now ensure legislation is put in place to encourage the expansion of gigabit broadband technologies from cities to rural areas.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of high-quality, fixed broadband became abundantly clear,” said co-author Dr. Marcus Brunner, Chief Expert for Enhanced Broadband, Huawei, and WBBA Working Group Chair. “In a digitalised society, remaining connected is a necessity. Cities and their residents, businesses and public services can all benefit from gigabit-speed fibre connectivity, but only if greater investment is provided. Only then will everyone be empowered to take advantage of the unparalleled socioeconomic benefits gigacities can deliver. We hope our recommendations encourage governments to take action immediately.”
The Gigacity: unleashing the power of connectivity and innovation report provides a set of key characteristics which can be used to help cities benchmark their own gigacity development.
“We have set out a number of key characteristics, which include the level of fibre to the homes (FTTH) passed, mobile cell site fibre connectivity, median broadband speeds, and more”, said co-author Michael Philpott, Research Director, Service Provider – Consumer at Omdia. “As gigabit city developments continue to increase, we have also set out what is required to actualize 10Gigacities and ensure reliable connectivity for all is maintained.”
The report also stresses the need for ambitious national, regional and city plans to drive the development of gigacities. For government bodies and regulators, targets include the adoption of gigabit broadband services, and greater coverage of fiber infrastructure in residential, enterprise and public areas, alongside school buildings. Greater policy support and financial incentives have also been requested to further market development and support universal service obligations.
Once future technological advancements come to the fore, further evolution from gigacity to 10Gigacity will be required. This will provide an opportunity to coordinate the efforts of government, private, and non-profit organisations to enhance their nation’s competitiveness and international standing. 10Gigacity will mean the delivery of 10Gbps speeds for home, campus, mobile broadband and enterprise networks, with optimal 5G and FTTH network coverage and high user take up rates. For this to be achieved, next-generation technology for both mobile and fixed networks will be essential.

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