UF, GRU, GRUCom team up to offer ultrahigh-speed broadband connections in Innovation District

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Gainesville residents who live or work in the Innovation District will soon have access to gigabit broadband connections up to 100 times faster than standard DSL or cable services, thanks to a cooperative effort between Gainesville Regional Utilities’ GRUCom telecommunications network and the University of Florida.

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The initiative is part of a nationwide effort known as the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, or Gig.U, a broad-based group of more than 30 leading U.S. research universities. Gig.U’s goal is to accelerate the deployment of ultrahigh-speed networks to leading U.S. universities and their surrounding communities in order to drive economic growth and stimulate innovations addressing critical needs, such as health care and education.

The higher-speed connection option is expected to be available to business and residential customers in Innovation Square – a segment within the Innovation District between the UF campus and downtown Gainesville – later this month and will be extended to other parts of the district as the area develops. That 1 Gbps service also will be extended throughout Gainesville as demand rises, officials with UF and GRUCom said.

UF President Bernie Machen said the effort is an important step in providing the kind of service and support that will speed economic development and growth at Innovation Square and in the Innovation District.

“Entrepreneurs and technology leaders work in a competitive world where big ideas and enormous amounts of information need to move quickly,” Machen said. “This is just what’s needed to attract those types of people to the Innovation District. Having a high-bandwidth community near our campus creates an environment that will better serve the mission of educating our students and creating a hub of high-tech economic growth for Florida.”

Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe agreed.

“Ultrahigh-speed broadband is the new standard of performance that will power innovative research and development at the University of Florida,” Lowe said. “Sharing this capability beyond our campuses and to our communities will help us retain startup, high-tech businesses as they prosper and grow in the city of Gainesville.”

Here’s how it will work: All Innovation District residents and businesses will have access to gigabit connections to other homes and offices within the district. Using a network peering arrangement between GRUCom and UF, students, faculty and staff will be able to securely access the UF Campus Core Network from their Innovation District lab, office or home. They also will have remote access to on-campus connections with the Florida LambdaRail, National LambdaRail, Internet2, and research and education networks worldwide.

Said GRU General Manager Bob Hunzinger: “GRU has been actively involved in the design and planning of all utilities within the Innovation District. We want to make sure everything is in place to support our customers and the University in the context of entrepreneurial and technological development. Bringing GRUCom’s all-fiber speeds and the latest in communications networking technology will help us accomplish this goal.”

Gig.U Executive Director Blair Levin congratulated GRU, Gainesville and the university, noting “this partnership will provide Gainesville with a strategic bandwidth advantage that will enable its residents to invent and enjoy the next generation of bandwidth applications. Many generations of Gainesville residents will benefit from the leadership shown here today.”

About Gig.U

The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, or Gig.U, is a broad-based group of more than 30 leading research universities from across the United States. Drawing on America’s rich history of community-led innovation in research and entrepreneurship, Gig.U seeks to accelerate the deployment of ultrahigh-speed networks to leading U.S. universities and their surrounding communities. Improvements to these networks drive economic growth and stimulate a new generation of innovations addressing critical needs, such as health care and education.

About GRU and GRUCom

Gainesville Regional Utilities is a city-owned, multi-service utility, providing electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunications services to approximately 93,000 retail and wholesale customers. GRUCom, the telecommunications division of GRU, delivers Internet, data transport, colocation, cellular carrier and wireless, and public safety radio services to customers across a 375-mile all-fiber-optic network. A key feature of the network is its active Ethernet backbone design, which ensures a consistently fast performance, even during peak usage hours.

About Innovation Square

Designed and developed as a sustainable, live/work/play community environment by the University of Florida Development Corporation, Innovation Square is the place for forward-thinking people and companies to take breakthrough ideas from mind to market, bringing the next great discovery to the world. Located two blocks from the University of Florida, one of the nation’s premier public research institutions with 170 centers and institutes, Innovation Square provides opportunity to collaborate with UF’s recognized 4,000 researchers, $619 million annual research awards and information where transfer of technology to the marketplace is highly successful.


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