Penn State Joins Gig.U Broadband Access Project

Penn State was announced late last week as one of 29 first-class American institutions of higher education involved in a project that is expected to provide a boom for broadband access in their respective communities. There is significant diversity among the universities involved with Gig.U, including all combinations of rural and urban, private and public. Gig.U participants will be working on developing broadband infrastructure that could enable American economic growth and technological innovation in an increasingly competitive and connected world.

Kevin Morooney (Andy Colwell/Penn State Live)

The Gig.U project is still in its infancy but, according to Penn State Vice Provost for Information Technology Kevin Morooney, it appears to be a game-changer for the university community. Penn State’s involvement with the project began about six months ago and it is currently one of the largest IT efforts at Penn State, said Morooney.

As noted in the New York Times on Gig.U, the United States is internationally ranked fifth in overall network “readiness” and 30th in network bandwidth available to the population. It’s no secret that America’s infrastructure, especially information technology and telecom services, has fallen behind internatinally relative to earlier generations.

The Gig.U project would connect people in university communities with connection speeds hundreds of times faster than what currently exists; broadband pipelines so wide that high-definition videos could be delivered in seconds.

Morooney is excited about the possibilities this project can bring to Penn State. “This isn’t the same old thing,” said Morooney. “When you’re expanding the notion of connecting citizens with high fidelity connectivity, something impressive is bound to happen.”

Right now, the project has no connection to state/federal funding, according to Morooney.  As noted by Bloomberg, the Gig.U project administrators intend to solicit private funding, especially telecom companies and start-ups.

The key, said Morooney, is that the Gig.U project begins a conversation in university communities about how to expand America’s innovative capability through broadband connectivity. IT projects often lead to unexpected outcomes — network effects and novel applications. It will be interesting to see what comes of this… stay tuned.

Does State College need this kind of infrastructure investment? Let us know your reactions to the plan in the comments.

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Dave Cole

Dave graduated from Penn State in 2013. He was the Managing Editor of this website. Dave remains a proud Onward State alumnus to this day. Twitter --> @davecolephoto

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