GigUThe Gig U initiative aimed at driving the deployment of ultra-high-speed broadband to university communities received 57 “comprehensive responses” to the request for information (RFI) that supporters issued in September.

“There is strong private sector interest in working with university and community partners to break traditional molds to deploy next-generation communications infrastructure,” said Gig U in a report summarizing the RFI results.

The concept behind Gig U, headed by National Broadband Plan crafter Blair Levin and launched last July, was to enable U.S. universities to act together in requesting that network operators bring high-speed service to their campuses and communities. Local communities can benefit substantially from such connectivity, which can support a range of advanced applications involving health care, education, telecommuting, emergency monitoring and more, supporters argue.

Apparently that idea has been well received by network operators. Among the key findings of the RFI process:

  • A majority of Gig U members are at least partially served by three or more “national” carriers who responded to the RFI, and 28 out of 37 are served by two or more such carriers
  • Slightly less than half of total responses (24 of 57) came from service providers and network operators
  • Also responding were 14 equipment manufacturers, eight consultants, and two research & education networks
  • Many respondents identified key expected costs and revenues that are critical to their investment decisions — such as pre-commitments from high-value institutional or multi-dwelling unit customers, a streamlined permitting process for cost-effective construction methods such as micro-trenching and access to existing dark or lit fiber owned by public entities
  • Respondents also said they would like to know more community-specific information about proposed use cases and to see more community involvement
  • Gig U is also viewed as an attractive test bed for innovative technologies

“Nearly all of our member communities now have options for increased bandwidth offerings that they previously did not have,” said Levin in an announcement of the RFI results. “Further, significant new private sector financial resources are being put on the table.”
The next step will be a meeting in March of Gig U’s 37 member universities.