UF, Gainesville join nationwide effort to land ultra-high-speed broadband
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A group of 29 leading U.S. research institutions and their local communities, including the University of Florida and the city of Gainesville, announced today that they have formed Gig.U: the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, an effort designed to bring ultra-high-speed connectivity to their campuses and communities.
The goal: to accelerate the move to broadband, making it possible for universities and communities to compete internationally and spur economic growth.
Project organizers plan to work with existing and potential Internet service providers in an open, market-based process to determine how best to achieve their goals.
Participants today took the first step by inviting Internet service providers to provide information on how best to approach the mission of bringing high-speed networks to the research institutions and their communities.
UF President Bernie Machen said it’s important for the university and the city of Gainesville to be involved in the Gig.U project because of their increasingly collaborative efforts in economic development.
“Public-private partnerships like this are the way forward,” Machen said. “When you put this against the backdrop of what UF and local government and business leaders are doing with Innovation Square, it’s obvious this is a perfect fit. Meaningful economic growth will be much more difficult without ultra-high-speed broadband.”
Elias Eldayrie, UF’s chief information officer, agreed.
“In order for research universities and communities to grow and prosper together, we need access to the same technology,” Eldayrie said. “Ultra-high-speed broadband is the new baseline; it’s where UF and Gainesville need to be so that we can compete together with the best the world has to offer.”
The project arose from concerns that American research institutions might lose their ability to vie with their international counterparts and provide leadership in areas important to U.S. competitiveness. Organizers recognized the need to accelerate the inevitable upgrade to next-generation networks in communities that work in partnership with these institutions.
Project members released an open letter signed by the participating universities explaining its purpose and inviting others to join in the effort. The letter concludes “we believe that if our communities can have access to unlimited bandwidth, we can unlock unlimited opportunities.”
The project is being incubated at the Aspen Institute and will be directed by Blair Levin, a fellow at the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and formerly the executive director of the National Broadband Plan.
A list of all project members and more information are available on the Gig.U website, http://www.gig-u.org/.