& cplSiteName &

Vendors Intrigued by Gigabit Network Project

Kaps Korner
Kaps Korner
Kaps Korner

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        ADD A COMMENT
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
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
Friday, October 28, 1:00PM EDT
Security: The Plusses and Minuses of Open Source Software
Nick Feamster, Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 9, 1:00PM EST
MANO 101
Friday, November 11, 1:00PM EST
Open Source for NFV MANO
Wednesday, November 16, 1:00PM EST
SDN 101
John Isch, Practice Director, Network & Voice, Orange Business Services
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
OneAccess NFV Solutions

10|26|16   |   5:30   |   (0) comments

Antoine Clerget, CTO of OneAccess, discusses how his company has expanded its product line from enterprise-class routers to include a universal virtualized CPE as well as a suite of VNFs to help telco customers evolve to an NFV future.
LRTV Custom TV
The Journey Toward Carrier-Grade WiFi

10|26|16   |   3:39   |   (0) comments

In this Light Reading interview, Dave Sperling, CTO at Smith Micro Software and active participant of the WBA's policy working group, discusses the need for carrier-grade WiFi. Technical and business challenges slowing the fulfillment of this goal are addressed, as well as management strategies that will enable communication service providers to optimize end user ...
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE BBWF Highlights

10|26|16   |     |   (0) comments

At BBWF 2016, ZTE showed a broad range of innovative technologies that are kick-starting an ultrafast broadband journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation Technology Beyond DOCSIS 3.1

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Liu Jianhua speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Hybrid Video Solutions to Change TV, Change Future

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Ian Locke speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Future-Oriented Giga Coax Network

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Allen Wang speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei at SCTE 2016

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and take a sneak peek at the Huawei booth at SCTE 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Assuring Network Quality in a Rapidly Changing Environment

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

As the rate of change and complexity increases in agile networks, the importance of introducing DevOps methodologies for integrating active test and assurance solutions throughout the full service lifecycle becomes critical to ensure that customers are experiencing the service quality they demand. The industry landscape is changing, and software-based test and ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
A10 Networks on Service Providers' Industry Needs

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders hears how A10 enables service providers to accelerate, secure and optimize their application delivery to drive down costs, enhance service availability, and better respond to customer requirements, so they can improve customer satisfaction, monetize their network, and grow revenues.
LRTV Custom TV
New NFV Use Cases for Cable TV

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

A large number of NFV use cases are focused on the enterprise domain, looking at virtualization of customer-premises equipment (CPE). To date, there has been little focus on the use cases and business case for virtualization of the video content delivery networks required to deliver unicast and streaming video to consumers. Amdocs commissioned Analysys Mason to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Meet the Future Workforce: New Faces, Expectations & Motivations

10|19|16   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

Millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, expect more out of their network and more out of their work. Intel's Lynn Comp shares how the industry can prepare for this new generation of workers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Global Services User Congress 2016 Highlights

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

ZTE held its 2nd Global Service User Conference in Dusseldorf on October 13-14. Representatives from network operators, leading industry analysts and ZTE senior expertsattended the event, exploring the best practice in managed services and the vision to transform network operations into the operations center of the future (OpCF) in the software-defined networking ...
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Attacks Have Major Internet Sites on the Ropes
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/21/2016
Trump: Dump AT&T/TW & Comcast/NBC
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/24/2016
Google Fiber Hits Pause Button, Scales Back
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/26/2016
T-Mobile: AT&T & TW Means Ma Bell Not Focused on Mobile
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/24/2016
Layer3 TV Comes to Town, Hints at Future
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/21/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
'Oh, Were You Looking for This?' Click Here
'I was just playing some games...'
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.