Tireless Efforts To Bring Gigagbit Broadband to the Emerald City
On Thursday, December 13th, we were able to announce the second participant in our Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program. Since in announced the program in May alongside Gig.U, Gigabit Squared has announced Chicago and now Seattle will be part of this groundbreaking 21st century broadband project.
Seattle’s sponsor in this endeavor was the University of Washington. Seattle is lucky to have such a strong community partner and advocate.
And so we gathered at the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering at UW, where Ed Lazowska, Bill and Melinda Gates Professor & Chair, kicked off the event of Computer Science talking about the “landmark day” for Seattle.
Next up, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn talked a bit about the nuts and bolts of what this means to Seattle ans his vision. I want to commend Mayor McGinn and his fine staff for their foresight. They will surely show the world how to innovate! Seattle’s businesses and citizens have them to thank for the tools we plan to bring to bear to help compete in today’s global digital economy.
The Executive Director of Gig.U and our friend Blair Levin did us the honor of attending as well. It was Blair’s vision not only for this program, but in crafting the National Broadband Plan that made this a momentous occasion for us all. He congratulated Seattle on behalf of all of Gig.U member institutions, world-class research universities.
And then came my turn… my least favorite part of the event as I so enjoyed hearing from everyone else. Nonetheless, it was my task to try and do what I always do, explain the “so what” of gigabit broadband. We may all know that faster is better, promotes innovation… but what could that look like?
What we’re doing in Seattle starts with the building of demonstration fiber project in 12 Seattle neighborhoods. What could the availability of Gigabit Internet mean for Seattle?
It means better education as we break down traditional classroom walls with digital learning tools.
It means higher quality healthcare as we will be able to provide not only telemedicine to the homes of citizens, but allow Seattle’s physicians to digitally consult with specialists all over the world.
This means making health and wellness services available anywhere, aging in place possible and improving recovery times at home instead of in the hospital. Creating a healthier Seattle.
It means opportunities to improve the City’s public safety services as our first responders can “serve and protect” more effectively armed with digital tools and information.
And it means that businesses, the largest in the City, as well as home based businesses will have the Internet speeds they need to collaborate, innovate, and create the products and services of tomorrow – right here in Seattle.
We are looking forward to taking this journey with the mayor’s office, Seattle’s citizens, organizations, and businesses as we all work together to make the Emerald city a “city of Tomorrow.” Keep coming back to www.gigabitseattle.com for updates, and if you are interested in service, make sure you signup at www.gigabitseattle.com/signup.
by Mark Ansboury
Well we’re off! Yesterday we announced the first recipient of the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program (GNGP) in Chicago. This is the first recipient of approximately six communities and Gig.U Universities where Gigabit Squared will be bringing this exciting program.
What we love about the Chicago project is the tremendous number of partners we’ve brought together – from the University of Chicago, to communities like Woodlawn, state, city and county government, as well as hospitals and schools. Combine this with the private equity Gigabit Squared is bringing to the table, and this public/private partnership is a model for communities all over the nation to follow.
For the State’s part – they generously contribute $2 million towards the project through Governor Quinn’s “Gigabit Communities Challenge.” The governor’s passion for gigabit-speed broadband is rooted in its importance for “our education, health care, law enforcement, economic development, and for many other applications and opportunities.”
Our Gig.U Partner for this initiative is Robert J. Zimmer, President of the University of Chicago, spoke of how he was excited to have gigabit speeds in the area to help foster innovation. Their commitment is substantial as they are putting $1 million towards the project today and are working to raise another $1 million.
Blair Levin, the Executive Director of Gig.U, renown for his work crafting the National Broadband Plan, and our partner in the formation of the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program, was also in attendance for this exciting announcement. Blair spoke of how local leadership is key, including from Governor Quinn, who he dubbed America’s Broadband Governor. Blair went on to praise the City’s recognition that gigabit broadband – and fostering innovation – would be key to Chicago’s prosperity just as being a railroad hub was 100 years ago. And finally, Blair praised the University of Chicago for understanding that high performance knowledge exchange needs to extend into the community – and he wrapped it up thanking Gigabit Squared for our leadership in building a 21st century network that will support the information economy.
And finally, my partner Bob and I had a chance to speak about why we’re so excited about this project in Chicago. Bob talks about “digital economic development,” bringing technology innovation and community engagement together to foster new economic activity and development opportunities.
As we both reflected, this is a culmination of what we’ve been working on for more than a year as well as our passion to create digital inclusion.
We’re excited to see how GNGP will create innovation, economic opportunity, jobs and empowerment throughout Chicago by deploying gigabit speed broadband. And at the same time, Chicago will see increased educational opportunities, better healthcare for residents of the Mid-South, and increased entrepreneurship.
We’re thrilled to be starting this transformative program in Chicago, and we cannot wait to bring to additional communities. Stay tuned!
More Video Clips from Event…
Felicia Davis, City of Chicago
Cook County’s Lydia Murray
Bruce Montgomery of Partnership for Connected Illinois
Last week Google announced the details of its Gigabit initative in Kansas City – an exciting project that has the potential to bring Gigabit service to all of Kansas City by the end of 2013, you can click here for details. Along with the roll out came a slogan (marketing people do that) of: 100 times faster, 100 times the possibilities.
They even have a video to show the layman the history of the Internet and what it means.
First of all – Gigabit Squared would like to congratulate Google for everything they’ve accomplished to date to help push the limits of today’s Internet. We encourage all residents to sign up for the service as uptake is always a challenge for a new network. The Google name and marketing muscle should definitely help in that effort, but key to adoption might inevitably be those “100 time of possibilities” Google alludes to.
But in today’s competitive marketplace, there will always be a challenge to get people to “sign up” for new service, especially when the incumbent starts throwing in free movie channels. That’s why when Gigabit Squared rolls out a network, we focus on making sure the demand – the possibilities – are defined upfront. Stakeholders for public services like education, government services, health care, and public safety are brought together to help ensure that the applications… the possibilities… will be there when the network launches to help the community gain traction on uptake. No one switches services without a compelling reason – or multiple compelling reasons to do so. Without gigabit speeds, you will not have access to tele-medecine… OR government services can be a click away instead of a long line… well these are reasons to switch.
As we take applications for the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program, we’re seeing a lot of communities that recognize the need for upfront collaboration and planning. These plans are exciting as they include new applications that will drive better health care, education, and business competitiveness.
Yes, there are 100s of possibilities with Gigabit speed. Our plan is to have many defined to help truly transform our communities and drive adoption.
I’ve been traveling more than usual lately – which means I get treated to hotel-speed Internet. I am not sure, but I am thinking a 28.8 modem was faster – and with hotel Internet connectivity, I don’t even get to hear the fun modem sound (see movie clip for a refresher). My last trip – using www.speedtest.net, I learned that my speed was .2 download… that is not a typo… POINT TWO.
So while I am able to get online, I was not as productive as I normally am, and ended up being frustrated enough to discourage my use. I have an iPhone, I have an iPad… and I don’t go anywhere for long without my laptop – so I have definitely embraced connectivity… but when I am in hotels, my activity suffers… significantly.
You see, activities that should be simple are now difficult and borderline painful. I am less inclined to get online, less inclined to be productive. Because I am spoiled? Maybe. Because I am human? Definitely.
It’s is the same with new applications that are being built and utilized today – without gigabit speeds, they are a hassle… and they are not going to be adopted without the right speeds. Companies won’t be as successful and may even need to move away. Entrepreneurs will locate to areas where they can receive 21st century connectivity and develop tomorrow’s solutions and today.
It’s this ideal – making sure we break down barriers and provide fiber connections to communities to help drive competitiveness and prosperity… one region at a time that is at the heart of our Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program. This is a tremendous opportunity for communities across the nation, we encourage you to look into it if you have not already.
Now if I could just stay out of hotels with terrible WiFi service.
We’ve had a lot of interest in our Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program (GNGP) since we announced it a little more than a month ago in DC. And beyond the questions about the actual GNGP programs, there seems to be a little bit of confusion about Gig.U, US Ignite, and how Gigabit Squared relates to each. Let’s take a step back first… What is the difference between these organizations and are they complimentary or doing the same basic things?
The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project – known better as Gig.U – is a consortium of more than 30 research Universities. Founded by Blair Levin in 2011, Gig.U’s mission, as they state on their website, is simple:
“Accelerate the deployment of world-leading, next generation networks in the United States in a way that provides an opportunity to lead in the next generation of ultra-high speed network services and applications.”
Gig.U was founded as broadband advocates recognized that the development of high speed networks was not increasing, but in fact stalled. So why is it the job of universities to head up and accelerate the deployment of ultra-high-speed networks? Well it is no accident that research universities are especially interested in Gig.U membership as they are, at their core, encouraging innovation and providing their students and the surrounding community with an atmosphere to create tomorrow’s technologies today.
In essence, Gig.U is “in business” to help ensure that our country’s brightest minds have a platform for innovation to develop digital solutions.
US Ignite’s official launch was just a few short weeks ago at the White House. This initiative focuses on fostering “60 next-gen applications.” In other words, what good is a Gigabit network without applications that leverage it? And we might ask… how will we ever push the boundaries of our currently limited bandwidth without applications that push adoption? No one is downloading from iTunes on dial-up, few are streaming movies from Netflix on DSL. Applications create demand.
And so US Ignite is here to drive application development, many that only exist in the imagination today.
The primary goal of the US Ignite Partnership will be to catalyze approximately 60 advanced, next-gen applications over the next five years in six areas of national priority: education and workforce development, advanced manufacturing, health, transportation, public safety, and clean energy. Responsibilities of the Partnership will include connecting, convening, and supporting startups, local and state government, universities, industry leaders, federal agencies, foundations, and community and carrier initiatives in conceptualizing and building new applications. The resulting new applications should have a significant impact on the U.S. economy, including providing a broad range of job and investment opportunities.
So what about Gigabit Squared? Obviously we have a relationship with Gig.U to help develop gigabit networks in Gig.U communities. And our leadership and ideas has been sought as US Ignite launches this bold initiative to foster applications. But at the end of the day, Gigabit Squared is a separate, private organization that believes that robust, gigabit speed bandwidth is the key to our nation’s success, now and in the future. Given that, we support both organizations in their efforts to establish platforms of innovation, and the applications that will reside on our 21st century networks.
On Thursday I had the opportunity to gather at the White House with other leaders in the broadband space from across the country as the Obama Administration announced US Ignite. What exactly is US Ignite? Well, going straight to the source (their press release)…
“The primary goal of the US Ignite Partnership will be to catalyze approximately 60 advanced, next-gen applications over the next five years in six areas of national priority: education and workforce development, advanced manufacturing, health, transportation, public safety, and clean energy. Responsibilities of the Partnership will include connecting, convening, and supporting startups, local and state government,universities, industry leaders, federal agencies, foundations, and community and carrier initiatives in conceptualizing and building new applications. The resulting new applications should have a significant impact on the U.S. economy, including providing a broad range of job and investment opportunities.”
As US Ignite helps encourage and create an open platform for broadband and application innovation, there will no doubt be skeptics asking, why do we need gigabit broadband in the first place? Well, of course we know many of the 21st century applications that are being leveraged by gigabit speeds in communities that include Chattanooga, Portland, Lafayette, and Cleveland (see the videos below). In each of these communities, broadband is providing live changing and economy-altering solutions. They are attracting new businesses, creating new jobs and seeing the benefit of just having broadband.
US Ignite aims to not only promote current next-gen apps, but foster visionaries to take the next step in developing apps we have not even dreamed of yet. But without a gigabit platform for innovation, these dreams will never be able to become reality.
By working though public and private partners US Ignite is inviting all comers to develop applications that change the way we think about broadband. Two demonstrations from key technology providers Oblong Industries and Surgical Theater showed what some of these advanced applications could look like.
The National Science Foundation has a long history of innovation in partnership with the private sector. US Ignite, like the early days of ARPANET (we all know what that lead to!) is setting the stage for our digital future. I for one applaud their actions and hope to participate in the creation of new meaningful applications for our Gigabit Neighborhoods.
And on a personal note – as US Ignite sets up test beds across the country to promote next-gen broadband applications, we’re thrilled to be working closely with this exciting new organization through the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program.
John Windhausen (Director of SHLB Coalition), Mark Ansboury of GB2, and Blair Levin of Gig.U gather after GB2's announced $200 million in broadband funding.
One week after we announced our Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program (GNGP), we’re overwhelmed by the excitement we’re seeing among communities across the community. Yes, it’s no surprise that given the availability of funding, there is no shortage of interested parties… but what’s really encouraging is how many people recognize the importance of this initiative.
By coming together, we’re able to build a gigabit network in multiple communities that will serve as a model for the entire United States. For the majority of you that were unable to make it, I’d invite you to watch the announcement below.
Well, it has started and we are excited at Gigabit Squared. Our Gig.U Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program (GNGP) RFP process has begun. Here is some background on why Gigabit Squared stepped up now—well stepped out— ahead of the curve in many respects. It all started for me and really for Gigabit Squared with the recognition of the power of broadband community and an understanding of the special relationship between a University and their community partners.
When Blair Levin and other University leaders started to articulate the Gig.U vision—we saw the Gig.U program connectivity as a real opportunity to make fundamental change in the US. In our work in telecommunications and economic development over the years, we saw a gap that needed to be filled. Part of it was a technology gap and part of it was a gap in leadership. That is what Blair Levin and the Gig.U founders understood so clearly. It’s not just about fiber—it’s about transformation. That was our “ah-hah” moment. The limitations were ones that we had accepted for so long in the US– we believed innovation in broadband was nearly impossible to achieve across a number of different communities simultaneously.
So we took a step forward with our announcement of the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program. One of the most fascinating performances for me as a kid was to watch Marcel Marceau, the world-renowned mime perform. His ability to conjure up the apparent physical limitations of space and distance (even time) were amazing and funny—we laughed as he was caught up in the barriers limiting his existence to the glass box. But there was no glass box—the barrier was only imagined. That is what we figured out… IF we had a flexible plan and the right funding in place the gateway was right in front of us. So we stepped out of the box and into the light with GNGP.
Unfortunately, life in the increasingly limited broadband box is not so funny when your community depends on its data networks and broadband infrastructure for its economic and social development. We needed new ways of innovating and a way to start to remove barriers sooner rather than later. We saw GNGP as the path and a start for others to follow. Like Marcel we just stepped through…
At Gigabit Squared we realized the limitations on gigabit broadband were ones that were largely self-limiting. The art rather than the science of the deal will be how effectively we can find the right partnership and create balance between doing the right thing and doing it wisely– so together we all create long term value and success in a number of communities.
I couldn’t be more thrilled about the culmination of not only Gig.U’s vision, but of Gigabit Squared’s unique approach to broadband initiatives as well. Our team has had a hand in the transformative power of broadband in dozens of communities, including Miami, Cleveland, Chattanooga, Lafayette and Detroit. And the most successful programs invariably always have strong University leadership behind them.
Why are Universities the most appropriate to be at the heart of these initiatives? Universities have been a strong advocate for broadband and bandwidth growth, but unfortunately, until Gig.U came along, communities across the globe were doing a much better job fostering broadband initiatives within their communities than were many communities in the US.
Gig.U realizes that it’s not only the job of our Universities to make sure our workforce is competitive – but that they have the infrastructure and platform to perform, innovate, and compete.
To do this, to make community broadband networks thrive as sustainable entities, requires a new business model. It requires a departure from the typical business model that merely looks at filling current demand and changing focus to what’s needed in the future.
Developing a gigabit network is not about catering to a few outliers using advanced applications now… it’s about serving the mainstream of tomorrow, and thereby leverage what’s next.
The Gigabit Squared business model focuses on making building a gigabit network economically feasible today by aggregating demand. By bringing the demands of the University, students, businesses, nonprofits, governments and residents together, we’re able to leverage resources to achieve together what we could not individually. In short, we’re building public-private partnerships with a Gig.U University working with Gigabit Squared at the center of these initiatives.
And by creating these regional gigabit networks, these robust networks will serve as a platform for innovation, creativity, and competitiveness. And they’ll do so by enabling those directly served, and by being a model that others can emulate. Other educational institutions, other communities, and other technology providers.
So today we’re here to announce the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program which makes available $200 million dollars in investment capital for up to 6 projects across the United States, led by Gigabit Squared and a Gig.U University. The RFP is now available to Gig.U members at both gigabitsquared.com and gig-u.org.
It’s the Nation’s first multi-community broadband gigabit deployment, creating networks with speeds from 100 to 1000 times faster than what Americans have today. The Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program will offer communities services at a competitive price for innovative projects that range from small neighborhoods of 5,000 to 10,000 and up to 100,000 people.
At the center of the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program is the idea that communities and their local stakeholders can drive economic opportunities through private investments that leverage public capital that will accelerate the deployment and utilization of gigabit speed networks. And it’s all done without taxpayer money.
The Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program will create demonstration projects in Gig.U communities that will serve as a model for maximizing the impacts of regional broadband networks. Each will feature “open” architecture networks to create long-term value and growth for the Gig.U University and community partners.
The Stimulus Funding was a great jumpstart to get broadband initiatives on track in the U.S. But it is just a starting point. In order to realize true economic revitalization, we’re urging our national and community leaders to think and act in more creative ways. And we’re backing those efforts with significant investment of our own.
The potential within a strand of fiber is technically unlimited. The potential in our communities is unlimited as well.
The Case Connection Zone is a research project with the goal of bringing 1G connectivity to the surrounding neighborhoods of University Circle and Case Western Reserve University. With this connectivity, we hope to study new applications and services in health, energy, safety, and education. This project is sponsored by Case Western Reserve University.”