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ASU helps launch Gig.U for next-gen computer networking

July 27, 2011

Leading research universities help bridge US connectivity gap

In an effort to generate economic growth and maintain U.S. competitiveness, Arizona State University and 28 other universities across the country have launched Gig.U: The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project –  to improve computer network technology in their universities and surrounding communities.

Improvements to these networks drive economic growth and stimulate a new generation of innovations addressing critical needs, such as health care and education.

“America's global leadership in many areas results from its leadership in creating and maintaining the world's leading research universities,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “As the world accelerates towards a knowledge-based economy, global leadership in generating economic growth and jobs will depend even more on these research institutions.”

Increasingly reliant on high-speed networks to educate, collaborate and share information, universities, and the communities they help serve, are in need of network upgrade opportunities. The mission of Gig.U is to create an ideal climate for new technology network test-beds and a new generation of high-speed network offerings for communities.

Working with Arizona State University, as part of Gig. U, are: Case Western Reserve University, Colorado State University, Duke University, George Mason University, Howard University, Indiana University, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University, Penn State University, University of Alaska, University of Chicago, University of Florida, University of Hawaii, University of Illinois, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Missouri, University of Montana, University of New Mexico, University of North Carolina, University of South Florida, University of Virginia, University of Washington, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Wake Forest University and West Virginia University.

“Gig.U members came together to address our unique connectivity gap,” said Lev Gonick, chief information officer and vice president of Information Technology Services at Case Western Reserve University, a Gig.U member. “We intimately understand that for American research institutions to continue to provide leadership in areas important to U.S. competitiveness, we have to act to improve the market opportunity for upgrading to gigabit networks in our university communities. We believe a small amount of investment can yield big returns for the American economy and our society.”

Gig.U universities and their surrounding communities have the most favorable conditions for a market-based, ultra high-speed broadband strategy, including dense populations and high demand from institutions and residential customers.  These communities have long served as partners and test-beds for advances in market segments ranging from health care and education to technology and energy.

Through an open Request for Information (RFI) process, Gig.U will gather data on these specific segments with an intent to inform high-speed service providers of new implementation approaches, and to enable competition to bring high-speed networks to research communities. The group aims for the RFI process translating into tailored Requests for Proposals for deploying cutting edge networking technology to campuses and communities in a matter of years, not decades.  

"Although the United States pioneered computer networks from the 1960s through the ’90s, in recent years it has fallen behind other nations in deploying and improving network technology," writes John Markoff of the New York Times, in a July 27 article about the Gig.U project. "A recent study by the World Economic Forum found that while the United States ranked fifth in overall network 'readiness' – a broad index comparing countries in the digital era – it came in 30th in network bandwidth available to the population."

Gig.U originated at the Aspen Institute and will be directed by Blair Levin, a fellow at the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and formerly the executive director of the National Broadband Plan.

For more information on the project, visit, or contact Elise Kohn, program director, at 202-706-7612 or