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10 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | OCTOBER 2014 INDUSTRY ANALYSIS The Game of Gigs In its frst three years, the Gig.U initiative achieved notable successes, learned some lessons – and helped set the stage for the gigabit race taking place across the United States today. By Blair Levin, Ellen Satterwhite and Denise Linn / Gig.U G ig.U began three years ago when three dozen research university communities came together to accelerate the deployment of next-generation broadband networks to enhance educational and economic development. We believed that eliminating bandwidth as a constraint to innovation would lead to economic and social progress for these communities and accelerate the discoveries that university communities create for the world. We also believed market forces by themselves would not deliver such networks on a timely basis, and therefore we had to innovate in how we approached network deployments. We saw our task as creating test beds; what we were attempting to do – organize communities to stimulate private investment to upgrade or overbuild existing networks – had few precedents. Tis required openness to diferent models, some of which we hoped would succeed and some of which we thought likely to fail. Taken together, those eforts would create a map that all communities could use to create the next wireline upgrade and achieve bandwidth abundance. We have made enormous progress. Trough a combination of eforts, scores of American communities, including more than a dozen Gig.U communities, are now deeply engaged in deploying such networks. Many of these, such as our own eforts, were initiated by communities. Now, however, in a radical change in the last 12 months, multiple service providers are initiating their own eforts. When Gig.U started, the fundamental strategy of incumbent Internet service providers was harvesting past investments in bandwidth-constrained networks. Now, numerous providers, including some incumbents, are developing strategies to deploy networks capable of providing abundant bandwidth and challenging others to enter a new, growth- oriented "Game of Gigs." Te interplay between provider-initiated and community-initiated eforts provides both enormous momentum and a variety of choices – precisely what we were hoping for when Gig.U started. It would be a mistake, however, to believe that the United States has passed the infection point at which the accelerated progress toward a critical mass of communities with world- leading broadband networks is inevitable and irreversible. History is littered with eforts in which initial progress was reversed because of a failure to persevere. Further, the market forces that favor allocating scarce bandwidth on legacy networks instead of deploying abundant bandwidth on new networks are still strong and, in some ways, gaining strength. We think the years 2015 and 2016 will prove decisive in achieving our goal but only if we and others spend this year with our foot on the accelerator. Te challenge from a public perspective is to make sure the Game of Gigs extends as broadly as possible. Gig.U welcomes the initiative shown by many in the private sector to accelerate the