Orono, Maine – home of the University of Maine – is set to get a gigabit network. The network, announced today, will be built by competitive carrier GWI and will bring broadband at speeds up to 1 Gbps to homes and businesses in the community.
The project, known as Gigabit Main Street, came about, in part, through the efforts of Gig U, a group of 37 research universities organized with the goal of spurring the construction of ultra-high-speed networks in university communities. The thinking was that by aggregating demand and identifying best practices, the universities would be in a better position to obtain network construction commitments from network operators.
The University of Maine is the second university to have success with this approach. Gig U participant Michigan State University announced earlier this year that it had obtained a commitment from a local carrier to build a 1 Gbps network in East Lansing.
“This GWI Gigabit Main Street deployment will not just benefit the University of Maine community; it will provide Orono, Old Town and the state of Maine with the strategic bandwidth advantage necessary to lead in the next generation of broadband innovation,” said Gig U Executive Director Blair Levin in today’s announcement.
GWI previously worked with the University of Maine on a middle mile network in the state that was funded, in part, through the broadband stimulus program. Like that network, the Orono network will use an open access model, meaning that other service providers will be able to lease network infrastructure.
The Orono network is planned in two phases. The first phase will “quickly” build out downtown districts and “business-heavy” areas of Orono and Old Town, said GWI in today’s announcement. The second phase will expand the network “based on demand and population density.”
East Lansing and Orono will join a handful of other U.S. communities with gigabit networks in place or under construction, including Chattanooga, Tenn.; Stanford, Cal.; and Kansas City, where Google is building a gigabit network.
When the Chattanooga network was built, some people questioned whether anyone would actually sign up for 1 Gbps service. But a recent report from the Fiber-to-the-Home Council estimated that after one year or less and with a small number of deployments there are already several hundred residential gigabit subscribers worldwide.