Cisco May Debut Superfast Network

Cisco's superfast broadband network looks set to make its debut next week.
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (

TheStreet

) --

Cisco's

(CSCO) - Get Report

rumored superfast broadband network looks set to make its debut next week.

The networking giant sent out invitations to journalists and analysts for a webcast event on March 9. Although specific details have not been revealed, the news will definitely be Internet-related.

"Cisco will make a significant announcement that will forever change the Internet and its impact on consumers, businesses and governments," said the company in its email invitation, suggesting that this could well be some form of superfast broadband network.

Last week the

Financial Times

reported that Cisco is developing an "ultra-high-speed system" for Internet access. Citing people close to the company, the FT explained that Cisco is working with a number of U.S. service providers on the plan.

Broadband is big news at the moment. Search giant

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

recently unveiled its own plans in this space and Washington will unveil its ambitious

national broadband plan

two weeks from today.

In a company blog post last month,

Google's broadband plans

were announced: The search giant explained that it will build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the U.S. Google also promised to deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today. The service, it added, will be offered at a competitive price to at least 50,000 -- and potentially up to 500,000 -- people.

America, despite its unquestioned status as a technology superpower, remains something of a broadband laggard, with around a third of the country's population disconnected from high-speed Internet.

This is a source of frustration for the likes of Google, which aims to provide information and services as quickly as possible to Internet users. Like Google, Cisco may be attempting to up the ante in the push towards higher-speed Internet services.

Although precise details of the government's national broadband plan have not yet been revealed, the new strategy is expected to extend service to underserved areas, stimulate investment in faster Internet speeds and boost broadband adoption in lower income households.

The FCC, which will present the plan to Congress on March 17, has already described its goal of ensuring that 100 million U.S. homes have access to 100-Megabit per second Internet speeds by 2020.

There has already been some progress toward this target. Telecom giant

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

already offers speeds of 50-Megabits per second on its FiOS wireline network, and has completed 100-Megabit per second trials.

Upgrading much of the country's Internet infrastructure, though, could be an expensive process. The FCC has said that the country's broadband buildout could cost between $20 billion and $350 billion. Some broadband subsidies have already been doled out from Obama's economic stimulus package, although the private sector already devotes vast quantities of money to high-speed Internet.

Service providers invested nearly $60 billion in broadband last year, according to analyst firm Yankee Group, and Cisco may now be looking to push some of this revenue into its own coffers.

Cisco shares rose 5 cents, or 0.2%, to $24.65 on Wednesday, mirroring the broader advance in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq rise 0.21%.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

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