University of Montana joins coalition to improve campus-area broadband

The University of Montana is one of about 30 universities that has joined the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project or Gig.U.

Gig.U’s goal is to expand broadband service into the communities surrounding campuses so that modern learning can be extended beyond the university’s walls. The project also emphasizes that increased access to broadband will help these campus communities economically.

…the networks our leading university communities depend on do not provide the necessary advanced connectivity.   Nor does the current market plan to upgrade the networks sufficiently to retain our leadership.  It is not surprising that the mass market will not meet the high bandwidth needs that are specific to our communities.  We cannot, however, accept the current reality, as it would cause us to lose our leadership and forego many opportunities for future leadership and economic growth.

How does Gig.U hope to build out these networks? By telling private ISPs that they want to see it happen and hoping that those private companies will share the Gig.U vision:

Through an RFI process, the Project will work with current and potential network service providers, as well as others, to create a critical mass of next generation test beds by accelerating the offering of ultra high-speed network services to their communities.

I’m sure the universities will offer some measure of support to entice private companies to put out money to build infrastructure, but the nature of that support was not clear in my reading of the Gig.U website.