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U Washington Lends Dark Fiber to Seattle Gigabit Project

The University of Washington (UW) is lending support to an initiative in its home city of Seattle to deliver an ultra high-speed last-mile fiber network to 50,000 homes and businesses in 12 fairly central neighborhoods. The recipients will enjoy gigabit speeds that are up to a thousand times faster than the typical high-speed connection.

The city has struck an agreement with broadband developer Gigabit Squared to develop and operate the network, which will use the city and university's "dark fiber," or excess fiber capacity, under a lease agreement. What's next is for the vendor to begin raising the funds to cover the expense of engineering work to build out a demonstration network.

Besides the neighborhood connectivity, the network, which is called Gigabit Seattle will also provide dedicated gigabit broadband wireless connections to multifamily housing and offices across the city with up to gigabit/second access. To do this, Gigabit Squared will place fiber transmitters on top of 38 buildings to beam fiber Internet to users that have line-of-sight to the transmitters.

The project will also bring mobile wireless Internet to customers in the test neighborhoods.

The company expects to emulate this type of project in five other university communities in the United States as part of a $200 million broadband program developed with the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project (Gig.U).

"The UW, the City of Seattle and Gigabit Squared are working together to make Seattle the most wired and connected city in the nation and to continue its role as a major leader in the innovation economy of the 21st century," said U Washington President Michael Young. "This new level of high-speed connectivity will provide essential infrastructure to help us address some of our biggest problems in the areas of climate, the environment, education, energy, and transportation. It's definitely a game-changer, and we are delighted to be one of the driving forces in making this a reality."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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