Well, things sure got interesting around here at the SHLB Coalition conference. Blair Levin of Gig.U told the lunch crowd yesterday that Gigabit Squared (a consulting, hands-on project management company) has raise $200 million to fund six gigabit-network projects that are originated and supported by colleges and college communities in the Gig.U program.
That’s kinda like a mighty BOOM! dropped on Google’s effort to bring gigabit broadband to Kansas City. “Yeah, we’ll see your one-city funding bet, and raise you five cities. Now whataya got?”
Given that media coverage of Google/Kansas City these days is often laced with threads of doubts regarding how well this project is going to work out, Gigabit Squared might start to cast a shadow over KC. I’m not sure how much KC wants to let this kind of a shadow hang over their project because the local constituency might start to lose faith. Few things short circuit broadband marketing like doubt among potential subscribers.
Chattanooga, on the other hand, with all of their intense self-promotion will likely experience the opposite effect. Gigabit Square’s effort will likely just reinforce the perception by Chattanooga’s citizenry that their city rocks and is truly community broadband’s Golden Child.
I managed to cap my time here on the East Coast with scoring an exclusive interview with Gigabit Squared President, Mark Ansboury, on my Gigabit Nation radio show. This is important, if I can be allowed a moment’s self-pat on the back, because there are a lot of questions (mostly positive) about the program and its potential impact. I’m honored to be first in line to explore these issues.
It is interesting reading some of the tweets about this announcement. Some of my friends from the progressive wing are worried about how much private-sector influence will be exerted on networks funded in this manner. Will they be truly community networks that serve the public interest above corporate interest? A few conspiracy theorists on the right only see the hand of big government and Google unfairly crapping on local service providers.
Listen to the show. Let’s delve into some of these questions and figure out what Gigabit Square is really all about.
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