Universities launch Gig.U for high-speed computing and economic growth

Washington, D.C. -- A broad-based group of 29 universities and communities across the country on July 27 launched "Gig.U: The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project," which aims to accelerate the deployment of ultra high-speed networks to leading U.S. universities and their surrounding communities. Penn State is a partner in this initiative.

The interest in growing high-speed networks across the nation is to drive economic growth and stimulate a new generation of innovations that address critical needs, such as health care and education, according to organizers.

"America's global leadership in many areas results from its leadership in creating and maintaining the world's leading research universities," said Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University, a partner institution. "As the world accelerates toward a knowledge-based economy, global leadership in generating economic growth and jobs will depend even more on research institutions."

According to Kevin Morooney, Penn State's vice provost for information technology, Penn State has long been involved in projects to build advanced networks.

University communities increasingly depend on high-speed networks to educate, collaborate and share large amounts of information instantaneously. Research in real time has fueled the growth of the global information economy, yet today’s market for bandwidth services does not address the particular needs of university communities. Gig.U's mission is to create a favorable climate for next-generation network test-beds and trigger a new generation of high-speed networking offerings for these communities. University leaders believe their institutions must act to improve the market opportunity for upgrading to gigabit networks in our university communities.

"Penn State was one of the founding members of Internet 2, and a leader in securing an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) grant to build a regional network to serve PA," Morooney said. "The Gig.U project continues this work by focusing on local community networks. Advanced networking capabilities are part of the infrastructure needed to assist research, aid education and health care services, and attract talented students, faculty and staff."

Gig.U universities and their surrounding communities have the most favorable conditions for a market-based, ultra high-speed broadband strategy, including dense populations and high demand from institutions and residential customers. These communities 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 inform high-speed service providers of new implementation approaches, and to enable competition to bring high-speed networks to research communities.

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said universities are leading the way in many unique fields of research and it’s vital to support and encourage those efforts. "Research doesn’t just happen inside the four walls of a university," Begich stressed. "By giving our communities the necessary tools we can spark research, innovation and invention anywhere."

Membership in Gig.U includes Penn State, Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Colorado State University, Duke University, George Mason University, Howard University, Indiana University, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University, 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 University and West Virginia University.

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Last Updated August 09, 2011