29 Colleges Are Faster Than One
From private citizens to large corporations, most everyone seeks bigger and faster. This certainly applies when it comes to network technology. Faster Internet service could, for instance, have a definite impact in many areas, including education, health care and telecommunications. The need for improvement and the positive economical ramifications have been recognized by several colleges and universities, leading them to pool their resources and step up to the technological plate.
A 'Build a Better Mousetrap' Mentality
Streaming video freezing? Images pixilated? Taking a while to download HD movies? Ultra high-speed networking erases these problems, as many of the largest universities in the U.S. have already learned. Now, other colleges and universities - including Arizona State University, Duke University, Penn State and University of Washington - are grouping together to play with the big boys and to offer access beyond university walls.
Gig U.: The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project is a coalition of 29 higher education institutions joining forces to bring ultra high-speed networks to the communities around each school. This would make high-speed Internet service - measured in gigabits that are more than 1,000 times the speed of megabits - available to both private homes and businesses in each neighborhood.
The ultimate goal of the project is to use the availability of these networks to draw businesses into the areas in a move to inspire innovation and stimulate local economies. While some might remain skeptical about the 'build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door' mentality, participants and proponents of the idea remain confident the plan can positively impact many communities in the U.S.
'We believe a small amount of investment can yield big returns for the American economy and our society,' Case Western Reserve University's Chief Information Officer Lev Gonick told The New York Times in July 2011. Case Western ran a pilot program in 2010, offering ultra high-speed networking to the neighborhood surrounding the university. The program led to three startup businesses moving into the area.
A Strategy to Help U.S. Get Back Up to Speed
The results of the Case Western pilot showed what many believe to be true: that placing advanced network capability around research universities leads to economic growth in these areas. What also makes it most attractive is that in many cases the areas around universities are heavily populated, and the demand for high-speed networks is high. In addition, the universities themselves provide the ideal environment for the research and development of new applications.
Compared to other countries, the U.S. ranks a pitiful 30th when it comes to available network bandwidth for the general population. The country's downward trend in network technology has been evident for the past few years, after it had dominated in this field for nearly three decades. Seeing the need for the U.S. to position itself to improve its network technology, Gig U.'s project head Blair Levin, former staff director of the Federal Communication Commission's National Broadband Plan, spoke with university researchers around the U.S. in devising this strategy.
To be funded by the private sector and without government money, the plan is what Levin calls a 'constantly evolving ecosystem that is improving our networks.' The universities in the coalition have already begun to converse with local telecommunications companies for advice and suggestions; the building of these networks is expected to be within the next several years.
While faster Internet service could certainly make college life easier, that availability may be years away at some schools; read about the gadgets available now that help with everything from studying to note-taking.