Gig.U to expand high-speed broadband in university towns

A group of 30 research universities nationwide are partnering together to help spread broadband to the areas around their campuses. The project is called Gig.U and will bring 1Gbps access to localities around each school. The group hopes that by providing this access they’ll be able to increase economic development and attract start-ups to their local communities.

The group is targeting start-ups in sectors such as tech, energy and health care which rely on ready access to high-speed broadband in order to do business. The schools also hope that by creating this infrastructure they’ll be able to foster cooperative relationships between local businesses, researchers, students and the universities themselves.

Gig.U is the brainchild of the Aspen Institute and has so far partnered with several major research universities including, Duke University, George Mason University, Virginia Tech and Case Western Reserve University. The group is also encouraging other schools to set up their own networks in the same fashion.

Gig.U is also notable in that it intends to reach out to broadband providers, university endowments and other private sources for their funding instead of relying on government funds. Gig.U organizers say that they started the network as a means of providing research universities with the high-speed access necessary to continue doing their work.

According to the Gig.U website, “the networks our leading university communities depend on do not provide the necessary advanced connectivity. Nor does the current market plan to upgrade the networks sufficiently to retain our leadership.” So, the group intends to build these networks on their own.

The group is expected to issue its first RFI within the next three months and will be looking for vendors to work on the networks.