Gig.U project aims to bring gigabit Internet to college communities

Twenty-nine universities in the US have banded together to bring incredibly fast gigabit Internet access to their campuses and surrounding communities.

Dubbed Gig.U, the project aims to attract cutting-edge startups to college communities, in addition to delivering fast Internet speeds to college students, the New York Times reports.

“These zones would ideally function as hubs for building a new generation of faster computer networks, which could make the United States more competitive internationally,” wrote John Markoff of the New York Times.

The project includes participation from schools like Howard University, Duke University, the University of Michigan, and George Mason University. Gig.U participants are still trying to figure out the best way to bring gigabit networks to their communities, which would allow people to download high-definition movies several gigabytes large in less than a minute. Doing so would likely involve costly outlays from telecom companies to roll out fiber networks.

Blair Levin, formerly the staff director of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, is spearheading the project as a fellow at the Aspen Institute. “We’re not asking for government money,” he said. “We believe the right approach is to have the private sector fund the networks.”

Many Gig.U participants come from heartland states that don’t normally get access to cutting-edge network speeds. The project could serve as an effective way to convince telecom companies to pay more attention to those communities. And potentially, it could also spur on technological growth and entrepreneurship in those areas.