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Gig U. Opens Its Digital Doors

A group of 29 research universities this week formed a coalition to launch Gig. U: The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, to speed high-speed broadband to their campuses and their environs.

They say they understand why service providers have not tailored their services to meet the research and information exchange needs of their universities, but are now taking matters into their own hands.

The schools plan within the next two-to-three months to put out requests for information on healthcare, education, technology and energy market segments to give service providers info on new ways to implement ultra-high-speed deployment strategies.

They are looking to convert that into RFPs that get cutting-edge networks to campuses and communities in years rather than decades, according to the schools.

"Unfortunately, the networks our leading university communities depend on do not provide the necessary advanced connectivity," the coalition says in an open letter to other schools to join them. "Nor does the current market plan to upgrade the networks sufficiently to retain our leadership.  It is not surprising that the mass market will not meet the high bandwidth needs that are specific to our communities. We cannot, however, accept the current reality, as it would cause us to lose our leadership and forego many opportunities for future leadership and economic growth."

Dean (actually executive director) of the university project, is former National Broadband Plan architect Blair Levin, now a fellow with the Aspen Institute, which put together the Gig. U project.

The university's participants are Arizona State, Case Western Reserve, Colorado State, Duke, George Mason, Howard, Indiana, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Penn State, University of Alaska, University of Chicago, University of Florida, University of Hawaii, University of Illinois, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Missouri, University of Montana, University of New Mexico. University of North Carolina, University of South Florida, University of Virginia, University of Washington, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia.