Broadband grants include $63M for 100-gigabit research network

Federal funding will provide more broadband access to BYU students in Idaho.
Federal funding will provide more broadband access to students across the nation.

Colleges and universities will be among the anchor institutions in an ultra high-speed nationwide internet network after President Obama on July 2 announced more than $760 million in grants designed to expand broadband web access.

The Departments of Commerce and Agriculture will dole out the federal broadband funding, which will go to 66 recipients, including municipalities, web service providers, libraries, and colleges, according to the White House.

Federal officials estimate that the funds will create 5,000 jobs in the nation’s slumping economy.

Among the grants that most directly affect higher education is the $62.5 million set aside for a national education research network that includes the organization Internet2, also known as the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development.

Working with other organizations and private companies such as Juniper Networks, Cisco, and Ciena, Internet2 hopes to create a nationwide “100 Gigabit per second network backbone” that would link “community anchor institutions,” including schools, community colleges, health centers, libraries, and public safety organizations, according to a July 2 Internet2 announcement.

The ultra high-speed project, called United States Unified Community Anchor Network (U.S. UCAN), would make online courses and telemedicine available at all community college anchor locations, not just two-year campuses located in urban epicenters, where broadband web access is common.

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