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Gigabit Squared and Gig U Offer $200 Million in Broadband Development Funding

Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program Announced

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Gigabit Squared and Gig.U recently teamed up to announce a joint venture to distribute $200 million for broadband projects to spur economic development. The Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program will enable up to six projects to receive $200 million in funding. The concept under which the program operates is that communities and broadband stakeholders within communities are the most effective advocates for driving economic opportunities. With a vested interest in the success of broadband projects, communities work together to maximize benefits and leverage existing assets.

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Both organizations are centered on developing technological solutions to sustain economic development and build strong communities. Gigabit Squared is a digital economic development corporation specializing in the planning, implementation and roll-out of IT-enabled infrastructure. They describe themselves as a corporation that helps communities and network providers around the world "develop, capitalize, implement and leverage sustainable infrastructure investments for civic and economic transformation."

Gig.U, or the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project,is a consortium of over 30 leading research universities from across the United States. According to the Gig.U website, the organization seeks to accelerate the deployment of gigabit speed networks to leading U.S. universities and their surrounding communities. Gig.U emphasizes the development of broadband networks to drive economic growth and stimulate innovation to address critical societal needs, such as health care delivery and education.

Gigabit Squared partnered with Gig U. to develop the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program to help select communities where high speed networks could be built to test gigabit speed broadband networks with speeds from 100 to 1000 times faster than what most Americans have today. The Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program will offer communities services at competitive prices for innovative projects that range from small neighborhoods of 5,000 to 10,000 - all the way to populations of up to 100,000 people.

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One of the secrets to the success of the community broadband projects funded through Gig.U and Gigabit Squared is strong community support. Community support translates into tangible benefits such as access to towers and poles, rights-of-way, and other benefits which are just as critical as funding commitments. The Google fiber to the community project in Kansas City claimed community cooperation and support as success factors for originally selecting the community, as well as starting the project.

Non-financial project support has been making its way into broadband deployment legislation and Executive Orders on the federal, state and local level. President Obama recently issued an Executive Order requiring federal agencies to develop consistent policies when broadband networks are being deployed on federal property. Another aspect of the President's Executive Order is the the scheduling of broadband deployment projects. Adopted after the "dig once" policies long advocated by broadband deployment experts - the policy not only speeds up deployment, it also has been estimated to save up to 90% of project costs.

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In addition to community support, another principle of the projects funded through the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program, is that broadband projects built under the program are open networks - meaning that any provider may access the network to provide service to customers (as a reseller). By reselling capacity on the network, the economic and societal benefits are fully recognized. An anchor tenant model can potentially sustain efforts to provide low-cost access to economically disadvantaged residents, while innovative applications in healthcare, education and research.

According to the Gigabit Squared announcement regarding the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program, demonstration projects in Gig.U communities "will serve as a model for maximizing the impacts of regional broadband networks. Each project will feature “open” architecture networks to create long-term value and growth for the Gig.U University and community partners."

Aaron Gadouas, Senior Vice President of the investment firm Stern Brothers & Co., commented on the unique model Gigabit Squared has created, “Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program is a compelling public/private model because both sides are able to leverage the contributions of the other, enabling projects that would not have been completed otherwise. It is a well-conceived and innovative initiative.”

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“What makes the Gigabit Squared approach so exciting is that it goes far beyond normal industry business models in how to successfully and creatively improve broadband access speeds for university communities, which is exactly the premise upon which Gig.U was founded,” said Blair Levin, Executive Director of Gig.U. ”We intuitively knew this, but to see Gigabit Squared emerge so strongly today proves that yes, America needs an upgrade; and that yes, there are innovators and investors willing to step up to get it done.”

Each Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program project will feature:

•The use of underutilized network assets and capacity and local investment to drive services and unlock long-term value and sustainability,

•A framework to create new capacity and spur development, including community service applications that promote better health, education and community services,

•Previously unavailable speed and bandwidth,

•Digital economic development strategies to aggregate revenues and lower the overall costs of scaling gigabit-broadband, and

•A future-state network that will serve as a platform for innovation, next generation application development, workforce development and job creation.

Another exciting program which was recently announced at The White House is US-Ignite. This initiative is focused on fostering “60 next-gen applications.” While Gigabit Squared and Gig.U exist to build high-speed broadband networks, US Ignite drives application development in education, research, healthcare and other sectors.

US-Ignite Initiative Announced at White House: Will Drive Innovative Applications in six areas of national priority - education and workforce development, advanced manufacturing, health, transportation, public safety, and clean energy.

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