University of Hawaiʻi and 28 universities launch Gig.U initiative

Gig.U aims to bring ultra high-speed broadband to university communities

University of Hawaiʻi
David Lassner, (808) 956-3501
VP for Information Technology & CIO, Information Technology Services
Posted: Jul 29, 2011

HONOLULU – The University of Hawaiʻi is one of a group of 29 universities and communities across the country that have launched Gig.U: The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project. 

Gig.U seeks to accelerate the deployment of ultra high-speed networks in the communities surrounding the nation’s leading research universities to drive economic growth and stimulate a new generation of innovations addressing critical needs, such as health care and education, that will in turn drive demand for higher speed networks to residences and businesses.

“America's research universities must be a vital force in promoting innovation in our communities and for the nation” said UH President M.R.C. Greenwood. “This includes helping the U.S. regain global competitiveness in broadband, which has emerged as critical 21st-century infrastructure for improvement of the human condition through advances in education, health care, public safety, sustainability, civic engagement, entertainment and economic development.” 

Universities already depend on high-speed networks to educate, collaborate and share large amounts of information instantaneously, and university research has fueled the growth of the global information economy. Yet today’s marketplace in the U.S. does not provide the nation with globally competitive services at affordable prices. Gig.U’s mission is to create a favorable climate for next generation network test-beds in university communities and trigger a new generation of ultra high-speed networking offerings that can then extend further into states, regions and the nation.

“We are delighted to join with our colleagues to create Gig.U, a bold new initiative designed to help our communities and our country take a vital step forward through new public-private partnerships,” commented David Lassner, UH's VP for information technology and chief information officer, who also served as chair of the Hawaiʻi Broadband Task Force. “Hawaiʻi, along with most of the U.S., continues to lag the leading economies of the world in the availability of affordable high-speed broadband services.”

Gig.U universities and their surrounding communities believe they present highly favorable conditions to support market-based, ultra high-speed broadband services, including relatively dense populations and high demand from local residents and businesses. University communities around the country have long served as partners and test-beds for advances in market segments ranging from healthcare and education to technology and energy. 

Through an open request for information (RFI) process, Gig.U will gather data on these specific segments with an intent to enable competition to bring high-speed networks to research communities. The group aims for the RFI process to then translate into tailored requests for proposals for the deployment of leading edge networking technology to campus communities in a matter of years rather than decades. 

The Gig.U approach is designed to build on foundations already in place, such as the community organizing done in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere for the Google Community Fiber initiative. Gig.U plans to identify where a relatively small amount of financial and/or political capital can create an environment in which there are sufficient incentives to provide next-generation services. The Gig.U effort begins with university communities as exemplars to demonstrate models and possibilities that can extend to additional communities, states, regions and the nation.

Lassner noted that Gig.U has already received expressions of support from current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioners and past FCC chairs from both parties, as well as leaders from industry, government and the non-profit sector. “While many countries have achieved phenomenal progress and leapfrogged the U.S. through direct governmental action, we hope this new approach creates and proves some new paths forward that will work in our unique marketplace,” said Lassner.

Gig.U has issued an open invitation to other research university communities to join the initiative. Gig.U is being directed for the membership by Blair Levin of the Aspen Institute. Levin was most recently responsible for the development of the U.S. National Broadband Plan at the FCC. Lassner serves on the Administration Committee for Gig.U.


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