Light Reading
11:15 AM Gig.U says it has received replies to its RFI from major vendors and service providers. Are university-led gigabit networks sounding less far-fetched?

Vendors Intrigued by Gigabit Network Project

Kaps Korner
Kaps Korner
Kaps Korner
12/9/2011
50%
50%

11:15 AM -- The quixotic dream floated this summer by more than 30 leading U.S. research universities -- to build gigabit broadband networks in their towns -- apparently has a small groundswell of support from equipment manufacturers and service providers who might help them reach their goal, according to the group that's leading the charge.

In an announcement Thursday, the organization known as Gig.U -- for its goal of bringing Gigabit-per-second networks to research university campuses and towns -- said it had received "dozens" of formal replies to its request for information (RFI), a process by which the group sought any and every idea on how such networks might be built, with or without the blessing of traditional big-company service providers.

Gig-U RFI September 2011 Looking from the outside in, the RFI process gives some framework to Gig.U's warm-fuzzy idea of starting with a big goal and working backward to find a way to make it happen. Detractors of the Gig.U idea can easily point fingers and say it costs too much to build, and you'll never make money off such networks. What Gig.U executive director Blair Levin and his group are doing instead is opening up the process to any and all possible participants -- "Like Apollo 13, we want to put all the pieces of a network into a room and see if you can put them together in a different way to make economic sense," Levin said.

While it will take at least a month for Gig.U and its partners to sort through all the ideas, pitches, thoughts and advice, a quick read of some of the plans has cheered Levin into thinking that Gig.U wasn't such a crazy idea after all.

"The RFI [process] was a way to find out what all the technical options might be, what is possible," said Levin, whose resume includes his shepherding of the recent National Broadband Plan, a career as a Wall Street telecom analyst and a stint as chief of staff for FCC Chairman Reed Hundt during the Clinton administration. Among the RFI respondents are some well-known equipment manufacturers and backbone service providers, showing that Gig.U's ideas might have taken a first step toward reality.

The next step will be seeing how Gig.U towns, schools and suppliers might blend technology and business ideas into workable, sustainable networks. It might be a mix of fiber and wireless, perhaps using nascent white-spaces technology, serving only campus buildings or perhaps some innovation centers inside university towns. The group will hold a workshop early in 2012 to pick through the RFI ideas to see how they might best move forward, Levin said.

While the group and its supporters know they've got a long road ahead, they also know that if they wait around for the big telcos or cableco to build those networks, they might be waiting forever. Verizon's past doubts about the marketability of its high-speed services and its recent capitulation to the cable providers is proof to Levin that if gigabit networks are going to be built, there has to be a new blueprint. (See Can Big Broadband Inspire Innovation?.)

"It's pretty clear already that the market is not going to do this [build gigabit networks] on its own," Levin said. "If we want to get this done, we have to look at it all very differently."

What that means, Levin said, is that there is probably some mix of help from the community, new equipment that might be provided at cost, and shared expenses for backbone connectivity that brings such networks into being. Levin said that Gig.U is already learning some lessons from Google's upcoming launch of fiber-to-the-home services in Kansas City, such as how simple things like speeding up governmental approval can produce bottom-line results. (See Google's Fiber Engineers Descend on Kansas City .)

"There are things that a city can do to help [build a network] like provide rights-of-way, access to buildings and fast-track approvals," Levin said. "The cost of these things to the city is basically zero, but in Kansas City it was measurable to Google in dollars."

That the need will be there some day for these networks is almost a given; Levin pointed to a recent New York Times article about how DNA sequencing research is currently being hampered by networks unable to handle the big streams of data created. One of the points of building gigabit networks, he said, is not the end goal of the network speed but the enablement of innovation.

"The testbeds are not just for the networks, but for innovation -- where you can just wipe out any barriers caused by broadband issues," Levin said.

— Paul Kapustka is the founder and editor of Sidecut Reports, a Wireless analysis site and research service. He can be reached at kaps@sidecutreports.com. Special to Light Reading.

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
More Blogs from Kaps Korner
7:00 AM What prevents more companies from building seamless networks made of stitched-together hot spots?
6:00 AM With nearly ubiquitous Wi-Fi, industry folks and academics are looking to unlicensed spectrum to expand broadband's reach and cut down on its costs
10:30 AM Mobile video isn't the next big thing; it's the big thing that's happening right here, right now
12:30 PM Here's what you need to know if you have a mobile device or a connected laptop
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
From 4G to 5G: Alcatel-Lucent's Dave Geary

11|25|14   |   09:09   |   (0) comments


Dave Geary, President of Wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, talks about the evolution of the 4G market, small cells, partnerships, 5G and the IoT.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Secure Telefonica Network With Huawei's High-End Firewall

11|24|14   |   4:37   |   (0) comments


Andrew Davies, IP architect of the Telefonica, a leading digital communications company, discusses the Huawei security gateway solution and putting the solution into the testbed.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Partners with Spirent to Verify CE12816's 10GE Port & TRILL Networking Capabilities

11|24|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Spirent Communications is the world's leading supplier for telecom testing appliances and solutions. Spirent has been in a close partnership with Huawei for a long time.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Airlines & Its ICT Transformation

11|24|14   |   2:07   |   (0) comments


In this video, Saudi Airlines discusses its network problems and how Huawei's Agile Network is its all-in-one solution.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Agile Switch Benefiting Saudi Arabia's Yamamah Hospital

11|24|14   |   2:40   |   (0) comments


Saudi Arabia's Yamamah Hospital speaks about how Huawei's Agile Switch has improved the medical service's network infrastructure.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
FanPlay & Huawei Build a Wireless Agile Smart Stadium

11|24|14   |   2:13   |   (0) comments


FanPlay is a cloud-based white label service, which is effectively a football fan engagement platform underpinned by mobile payment technology.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building an Agile Stadium

11|24|14   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Stadiums may be thousands of tons of concrete and steel, but they now need to be agile. Being at the stadium may not be as alluring as it once was. Sports franchises and stadium operators discuss how to get fans back.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Helps ChinaCache Tackle Challenges in the Internet Industry

11|24|14   |   3:09   |   (0) comments


ChinaCache is China's largest content distribution network supplier. Huawei's CE12800 has provided ChinaCache with very strong support in its establishment of an infrastructure network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Cefinity on Managed Security Services & Next-Generation Firewall

11|24|14   |   7:05   |   (0) comments


Cefinity is a cloud management service provider in Southeast Asia. Ivan Zhang, CEO of the company, discusses the implementation of security service management in the cloud era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Agile Gateway in the Eyes of Cefinity

11|24|14   |   2:11   |   (0) comments


Cefinity is a managed service provider for enterprise networks. The company currently uses Huawei's AR series routers for the most complete range of functions. CEO Ivan Zhang speaks about the advantages of the AR series routers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
CTO of Bus-Online Talks About Huawei's Agile Gateway

11|24|14   |   2:53   |   (0) comments


Bus-Online covers around 100 million users everyday. In addition to providing mobile TV, and advertising services to the public, Bus-Online has also entered the field of mobile Internet.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Amsterdam ArenA as an Agile Campus

11|24|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Amsterdam ArenA, home of the Ajax soccer team, can be a crowded space. ArenA has partnered with Huawei to work on bringing ample bandwidth to 53,000 people at the same time.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
Bell Labs Chief Slams 'Toy' Networks
Robert Clark, 11/19/2014
$38.3M: Ain't That a Kik in the SMS
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/20/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
Operators Should Block Ads to Get Their Cut, Startup Says
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/24/2014
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/21/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed