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February 04, 2013

Gig. U Awaits Approval for North Carolina Network's New Gigabit Project

By Colleen Lynch, TMCnet Contributor

The North Carolina Next Generation Network, with the help of Gig. U, has officially put together a request for proposals for their new project to build a gigabit network in a large region of North Carolina.

The announcement was made on Friday, February 1, and the deadline for the proposals is scheduled for April 2. If the request is granted, the project will begin immediately, and within a speedy 18 months, the service will be made available.

The North Carolina Next Generation Network is comprised of four universities in the state; North Carolina State, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Duke and Wake Forest, in addition to six communities within the state.

Those involved with the project are hoping to convince both new and existing broadband providers to offer bids on the proposed network, which will offer broadband download speeds of at least 1 Gbps.

“It’s an experiment,” said Gig. U’s Executive Director, Blair Levin, when discussing the project in a statement. “What have we got to lose? The cost of bringing these universities and communities together to organize a plan for encouraging broadband deployments is very small. But the upside in terms of the innovation and economic development for these communities is huge.”

These benefits include advances in telemedicine, distance learning and new industries that will help create new jobs.

Levin conceded, however, that this project is ambitious – even before it got off the ground.

“The economics for building a new fiber infrastructure are hard. But we’re trying to help communities figure out ways to change the math,” he said.

Already, Gig. U is ahead of the game and prepared to move forward should the request be granted, having raised $200 million in private investment for the new networks. The company believes this project will move forward not only because of the money pledged for it, but the amount of already available customers.

“Knowing ahead of time that you will have customers for a service that you are spending a lot of money to build is incredibly beneficial,” Levin noted. “If you don’t have to build your network unless you know you will have a take-rate of 25 percent, you’ve greatly reduced your risk.”

So with high hopes and expectations, Gig. U and the North Carolina Next Generation Network await the approval for their plan, and although it is challenging, Levin calls it “a challenge we welcome.”

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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