(This post has been updated; please scroll down for the latest.)
From today’s New York Times:
A coalition of 28 American universities is throwing its weight behind a plan to build ultra-high-speed computer networks — with Internet service several hundred times faster than what is now commercially available — in the communities surrounding the participating colleges.
The project, which is named GigU and will be announced on Wednesday, is meant to draw high-tech startups in fields like health care, energy and telecommunications to the areas near the universities, many of which are in the Midwest or outside of major cities. These zones would ideally function as hubs for building a new generation of faster computer networks, which could make the United States more competitive internationally.
For now the plan is a work in progress, with the universities reaching out to telecommunications companies for suggestions and to corporations and nonprofits for business ideas. The institutions involved include Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Howard University, Duke University, the University of Michigan, the University of Washington and the University of Chicago.
”We’re not asking for government money,” said Blair Levin, a fellow at the Aspen Institute who is heading the project. “We believe the right approach is to have the private sector fund the networks.”
By offering one-gigabit network connections — fast enough to download high-definition movies in less than a minute — not just to scientific researchers and engineers but to the homes and businesses that surround universities, the group aims to create a digital ecosystem that will attract new companies, ideas and educational models.
“It’s a sandbox for the research community and the residents, too,” said Lev Gonick, chief information officer at Case Western in Cleveland.
Last year, Case Western set up a pilot program in a several-block area near campus, he said. The Case Connection Zone offers one-gigabit fiber-optic networking to 104 homes adjacent to the university. Within three months of its birth, Mr. Gonick said, three startups moved to the neighborhood.
“We believe a small amount of investment can yield big returns for the American economy and our society,” he said.
Read the full article here. And for more information about the GigU effort, check out a recap from the recent US Ignite! and GigU Workshops held in early June at Case Western Reserve University.
Updated Friday, July 29, at 10:40am EDT: To learn more about the GigU partnership, visit the newly-launched website. From that website:
The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, or Gig.U, is a broad-based group of almost 30 leading research universities from across the United States. Drawing on America’s rich history of community-led innovation in research and entrepreneurship, Gig.U seeks to accelerate the deployment of ultra high-speed networks to leading U.S. universities and their surrounding communities. Improvements to these networks drive economic growth and stimulate a new generation of innovations addressing critical needs, such as health care and education.
Gig.U members understand that next-gen networks lead to next-gen opportunities.
Our mission is simple: accelerate the deployment of world-leading, next generation networks in the United States in a way that provides an opportunity to lead in the next generation of ultra high speed network services and applications.
(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)