- Digital Ecosystem
- Programs & Clients
by Matt Petronzio
Digitally connecting one person with another is powerful in itself, but connecting entire communities in the United States and around the world is truly transformative. Broadband, specifically, has the potential to give Internet users access to information that can inspire action, changing the way people learn, do business and help each other.
At the 2012 Social Good Summit in September, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg spoke about the rapidly growing enterprise of broadband. “Today, [there are] 6.3 million mobile subscriptions in the world, 1 million broadband subscriptions in the world. That’s just going to blow the next five years. [By] 2017? 5 billion mobile broadband subscriptions,” he said.
With this kind of growth, organizations have been working with broadband to bring people together and spur progress. Here are three examples of the power and future of high-speed Internet.
Gigabit Squared (GB2) is a digital economic development corporation founded in 2010 to create community broadband networks through public and private partnerships in the United States. GB2 is determined to develop networks that serve as innovative platforms for economic growth and social advantages.
“We champion both what’s now and what’s possible,” says Mark Ansboury, president and founder of GB2. “Fully competitive broadband speeds should be in the gigabit per second range in both directions, hence the ‘squared’ in our name.”
A gigabit squared is equal to 1.80143985 × 1016 bytes2 — more data than any network can currently deliver. The team chose this name to reflect how it constantly pushes its members’ ideas. The website reads, “There shouldn’t be a limit to the imagination — because that’s where innovation stops.”
GB2’s principals and partners engage with universities and communities to develop broadband initiatives, including efforts in the cities of Miami, Cleveland, Chattanooga, Lafayette and Detroit.
One of GB2′s notable partnerships is with the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, also known as Gig.U, which comprises over 30 leading U.S. research universities. The two organizations created the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program, through which necessary funds will be made available to support approximately six select Gig.U member-sponsored projects. Gig.U universities and their communities can apply, and depending on the strength of applications, there may be more than six involved.
Gigabit Squared created the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program to help these communities build and test gigabit speed broadband networks with speeds from 100 to 1000 times faster than what we currently have in the United States. The chosen communities will be announced between November 2012 and March 2013.
“Communities are selected based on a variety of criteria, but key among those is the ability to bring the community together and create a community partnership that will help ensure the success of these projects,” Ansboury says.
The hope for this program is that the communities and their local stakeholders will drive economic opportunities through the use of gigabit broadband networks.
Ansboury explains that there are many companies deploying fiber optic cable, but it’s necessary to use that fiber meaningfully.
“The optimal approach is to both upgrade the infrastructure with fiber and further enable the community through social connections, new and better services, more creativity and higher levels of global competitiveness,” he says.
GB2′s approach is to extend broadband to the underlying “social infrastructure” — health, education and public safety — in order to empower new services, systems and engaged members of the Gig.U communities.