Last Monday, September 26th I attended the Gig.U RFI meeting held at the University of Chicago. The Gig.U initiative, which Juan Vela first covered here last month, includes a group of 37 research universities. Each university is interested in building out symmetrical GE networks to their university and the surrounding community of student residences and nearby neighborhoods. In each case the university has one or more community partners—a city, county or neighborhood. Gig.U ‘s executive director is Blair Levin, who previously lead the creation of the national Broadband Plan at the FCC.
An Opportunity for Service Providers
During the morning session in Chicago, Mr. Levin explained that Gig.U has its roots in a community fiber network that is located in a low income neighborhood surrounding Cleveland’s Case Western University. The network has served as an incubator for broadband enabled applications, particularly related to telemedicine, that connect the community to innovation at the university. Seeing the success of this program, Gig.U’s founders understood that something needed to be done to kick start high bandwidth networks in the United States and stimulate innovation and university communities represented a good starting point.
I attended the RFI meeting with the idea of exposing the Gig.U members to our fiber access solutions, but more importantly to support Calix service provider customers who might be interested in working with the universities and surrounding communities in their service areas.
When reviewing the list of the 37 Gig.U universities and their communities, I realized that at least half of the communities are served by our customers, and, if we include long-distance fiber networks, there are probably several more. However, based on conversations I had during the sessions and an evening reception, it’s clear that many of the universities are not aware of the existing fiber networks in their areas.
Gathering Relevant Information
I am confident that the Gig.U initiative could be high visibility fiber access project for service providers and you have a lot to offer in helping to create some of these projects. Gig.U, clearly also believes this to be the case, and is encouraging service providers to meet with universities and communities who make up the 37 members. The organization has also released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking information from service providers on their networks and technology that could provide symmetrical Gigabit capable networks.
Once you have reviewed the RFI, if you intend to respond and would like support from Calix, please contact your Calix account team. We can also provide the Calix technical presentation that was presented at the event. Potential respondents have until November 9 to complete meetings with Gig.U members and the RFI is due on November 16. Questions can be addressed about the RFI to Elise Kohn, Program Director firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-706-7612.
I look forward to hearing about your partnerships with the Gig.U program and welcome your comments if you are already getting engaged.