The East Lansing-based Prima Civitas Foundation and Michigan State University are part of a new  national higher-education consortium that has come together in an effort to seek higher speed retail broadband for its various communities.

The consortium, dubbed “Gig.U,” is housed at Colorado’s Aspen Institute and is composed of as many as 25 university communities across the country.

The goal, said Steve Webster, PCF chairman and CEO, is to advance innovation and economic growth by upgrading the communities to ultra-high-speed broadband services made available by commercial providers. Ultra high speed is 1 gigabit-per-second connectivity.

“This project has the potential to be transformational for the capital region,” Webster said. “It’s an opportunity for our community to offer higher level broadband and accelerate its growth as a hotspot for knowledge economy jobs. This public-private partnership offers a strong competitive advantage for our region that few communities across the country could match.”

Added Ken Theis, COO of the Lansing IT firm Dewpoint Inc. and a PCF board member: “Representing the corporate side of Greater Lansing, I am pleased to be a part of the collaborative efforts between MSU, PCF, and community businesses to ensure that Mid-Michigan is well placed for this transformational opportunity.

Research university communities have been invited to the effort because they have the demographics and expertise most favorable to demand for very-high-speed Internet connectivity.

“We’re very pleased to be partnering with the Prima Civitas Foundation on this project,” said David Gift, MSU’s vice provost for libraries, computing and technology. “If successful, this would ensure that our community has access to the best broadband of any community in the world.”

The consortium is building on the work that was done last year when communities, including Lansing and East Lansing, took part in a national competition to lure Google higher-speed Internet connectivity to their areas. Kansas City, Kan., eventually “won” that competition, but approximately 1,100 communities applied, showing broad interest in having very-high-speed connectivity.

The consortium will be working directly with communities and commercial service and infrastructure providers to develop effective business models.

The Prima Civitas Foundation exists to serve all residents of Michigan in creating a new, prosperous, and sustainable economic future for our state. PCF is a 501 (c)  3 non-profit organization.

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