Startup raises $200M to deliver ultrahigh-speed Internet in 6 U.S. communities

Gigabit Squared has raised $200 million to construct broadband networks in six U.S. communities that contain research universities. The effort to provide ultrahigh-speed Internet access will collaborate with Gig.U, which has led the installation of fiber-optic networks in university communities. The six communities have not been named. Gigabit Squared, based in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, is in negotiations with its first university and says it will make announcements about timing and participation later this year.

Mark Ansboury, Gigabit Squared’s President and co-founder told the NY Times, “The big carriers built their fiber-to-the-home systems, but we have really seen them pull back in recent years.”  He noted that the United States was falling behind other nations that have moved aggressively to build high-speed Internet infrastructures. It ranked 13th in average connection speed in a survey last year by the network service provider Akamai; the world leader was South Korea, followed by Japan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Latvia.

Last year Google selected Kansas City, Mo., to build a prototype for speeds of at least a gigabit — 1,000 megabits per second. The company originally said it would offer the service in the first half of this year, but the date has slipped and Mr. Medin said the details would be announced soon.  Google has already deployed a small demonstration network in homes next to the Stanford campus.

Gigabit Squared described the next generation of Internet service as two gigabits — about 2,000 megabits per second, roughly 71 times the speed of a standard cable modem. 

Gig.U is the brainchild of Blair Levin, former director of the government’s 2010 National Broadband Plan, which originally called for high-speed network islands around military bases. Mr. Levin later settled on university communities as a better starting base for future Internet services.

Even though major communications firms are not pushing toward higher speeds, there are pilot efforts at gigabit networking in several states, including Tennessee, Louisiana and California.  Sonic.net, a regional Internet service provider based in Northern California, is offering gigabit networks to homes on several blocks in Sebastopol, CA.  The service is $59.95 a month, said Dane Jasper, Sonic.net’s chief executive, who added, “It’s the fastest and cheapest broadband in America — although it’s admittedly a small footprint.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/23/technology/partnership-plans-to-bring-ultrahigh-speed-internet-to-six-communities.html?_r=1

Teleco-Pro Comment:  We think that more broadband initiatives like this one are urgently needed in the U.S.  With the failure of the 1996 Telecom Deregulation act, most of the competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) have disappeared.  The existing competitive carriers (e.g. TW Telecom, XO, Level One, etc) and cablecos/MSOs (Comcast, TW Cable, Cox Cable, etc) seem to be ahead of AT&T and VZ in delivering high speed Internet to SMB customers.

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