Columbia, MU drop out of Gig. U initiative, search for other high-speed Internet solutions

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 | 8:45 p.m. CDT; updated 4:16 p.m. CST, Thursday, November 29, 2012

The currrent internet speed for a household is 6 megabits per second.

The internet speed will be 1000 megabits per second if MU continue involve in the Gig.U program. 

The internet speed will be 16-80 megabits per second if MU joint the AIR. U instead.

The city of Columbia and MU will seek new opportunity to build faster networks after the first two opportunities did not work out well.

The first opportunity to build high-speed Internet was the Google Fiber Initiative in 2010. The city built basic infrastructure for ultra high-speed networks even though Google chose Kansas City, Ks and Kansas City, Mo. Instead.

Disappointed by the result, the city of Columbia joint the Gig. U membership as the second opportunity to build high-speed networks. With other 36 universities, MU and city of Columbia joint the first phase of the project in July 2011.

After one-year effort to bring extremely high-speed broadband networks to the city and the research communities, MU announced that they dropped out of the Gig. U program last week.

“I am interested in how we will move forward,” Chip Byers, Director of New Initiatives of Morenet, said. “I am not sure what will be the next opportunity yet.”

Morenet is statewide research and education networks run by MU. They provide technology support and Internet services to MU campuses.

The city and MU made the decision not to continue to work with Gig. U.

Mike Brooks, president of Regional Economic Development Inc., said the question is about whether there is value to go forward to phase two when we have already know who will invest in Columbia.

The city invested $6,000in the first phase. The university paid $9,000 for request information for potential Internet providers who also meet the requirement to provide high-speed broadband to Columba.

The city will pay another $15,000 if they decided to enter the next phase.

“It is not an inexpensive cost for being a member of the Gig. U initiative,” Brooks said. “We are not sure that Ultimately enough value to pay for the Gig. U any more.”

Funding is not the only reason MU decided to end the program.

“I believe it is based on the fact that they have only got two responses,” Byers said. “That’s my understanding of why we discontinued.”

Gig. U, which is known as the University Community Next generation Innovation Project is a nationwide effort to bring universities and communities together to bring ultra high-speed internet to communities.

The first phase of Gig. U is about to attract local Internet providers to joint the effort to build one-gigabit bandwidth networks in Columbia, and work together to find out what is the necessary technology and infrastructure for carrying the project out.

“Gig. U was successful for us. They helped us identify the two candidates,” Brooks said.

One of the respondents is Century Link, but the other one will not be released until they made the final decision.

“Keeping the companies’ name private was part of the condition of Gig. U,” Byers said.

Brooks said they would continue discussions with potential companies that will help put the broadband in Columbia. MU and the city will continue private discussion with those two providers.

“The companies will make their own decision to carry out the project or not,” Byers said. “The idea was to put the market of Columba out there as a candidate for investment.”

If one of the respondents decide to provide the one-gigabit internet service, they will provide the service to Columbia and MU even though MU exit the Gig. U program.

“We have all the necessary technology, but we also need to attract vendors, necessary infrastructure, price change and application,” Byers said. “It should make sense to business that they can make money. Somebody in the community has to pay a bunch more to make the Gig. U happens, the vendors may want to you to pay more or more people to use it. ”

Some application for the one –gigabit Internet was compelling.

One compelling application is about to monitor retiree in the Tiger Place. The computer science center works with the nursing school.  They have developed the application that monitor people in the Tiger Place, such as how much they awake during the day, how much they walk, are they in danger of falling. All that take a fair amount of broadband to monitor.

Some people will want to pay the ability to monitor their mom or dad if they choose to live in their own house.

Except for working with the two respondents directly, they also try to find other methods to improve Internet service.

The Morenet is working with the Air. U to find if there is the third opportunity to enhance Internet Services.

The AIR.U (Advanced Internet Regions University) is a group of higher-education associations to deploy “Super Wi-Fi” networks on campuses.

“I am not sure what is the next step, but I am sure a lot of conversation will continue,” Byers said. 



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