WASHINGTON, DC — The movement to deploy gigabit communities across the U.S. has now achieved a striking momentum, according to the recently released third annual report from Gig.U, a consortium of research universities seeking to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet in universities and their surrounding communities.

Entitled “From Gigabit Testbed to the ‘Game of Gigs'” the report claims that the success of community-based projects (including more than a dozen from Gig.U) along with a new willingness on the part of several ISPs (incumbents AT&T, CenturyLink, Cox and Time Warner Cable plus Google Fiber, C Spire, Brighthouse Cable) to upgrade speeds, has resulted in a competitive “Game of Gigs” that will ultimately benefit communities across the country.

Game of Gigs

The report emphasizes that incumbents only respond to a potential change in the status quo. Inaction by a city leads to inertia in the market.

Lessons Learned
Gig.U Executive Director Blair Levin, who wrote the report, points out several lessons learned from communities who have acted for improved bandwidth.

  • Organizing community resources and stakeholders are essential for making gigabit projects economically viable
  • Start with a clear understanding of how your city rules and assets affect deployment
  • As it takes a long time to plan and deploy a network – and it always takes longer than you think – the right time to start thinking about how to improve the economics is today.
  • Incumbents only respond to a potential change in the status quo. Inaction by a city leads to inertia in market.
  • Cities who act will have to choose between the quick, short-­term win and the harder, longer term win.
  • While success depends upon broad support, it also depends on quick decision-­making. (One reason Google chose Kansas City as its initial project was that the unified government structure gave Google that confidence it would get quick decisions on a variety of issues as the project proceeded.)
  • There is no one size fits all solution; there are multiple solutions to different community needs. And there are multiple trade-offs. But all efforts improve the situation relative to the status quo.
  • Experiments don’t always work the first time. That’s why they are called experiments. Make sure the community leadership understands this and that there is a path to learn from experiments an improve performance in successive iterations.
  • Above all, local leadership is the single most important ingredient for success. If there are local leaders who put this at the top of their agenda, it can happen. If not, it won’t.

The report, however, cautions that the current momentum should not be regarded as unstoppable. The report cites three possible threats to the spread of high speed broadband:

  1. Change in Google interest
  2. Change in competitive opportunity due to mergers
  3. Change in municipal interest

In conclusion the report calls for continued efforts from universities and municipalities to keep high speed broadband a priority in their communities.