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USF could get portion of $200 million Internet grant

Slow Internet connections at USF may soon be a thing of the past.

USF could be one of six schools selected by the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program, which is providing $200 million to help the U.S., which is lagging behind Europe and Asia in Internet speed and performance, be at the forefront of ultra high-speed Internet.

The project, which is designed to increase Internet speeds between 100 and 1,000 times on university campuses and their surrounding areas, was launched in a joint partnership of the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project (Gig.U), of which USF is one of 37 member research schools, and Gigabit Squared, a private company, last week.

While a higher speed internet could save students time in downloading music and movies in less than a minute, Information Technology (IT) Associate Vice President George Ellis said the possibility of an ultra high-speed Internet will lay the infrastructure for USF to be able to create the next generation of digital technology.

Theres going to be things like virtual realities and visualization, he said. Super high-definition video (and) medical applications are going to become an important thing. Its not just todays applications that I think were looking at. Its going to be the future applications that youre not using today.

IT Vice President Michael Pearce said creating a faster Internet around USF would entail building Internet hubs in underutilized areas, which would boost Internet speeds across the entire campus.

We have a lot of bandwidth thats capable on the campus here, he said. But if youre at home, and youre coming in to utilize some of these types of environments, the speed (of) the lowest link in the connection becomes the problem.

Rea Burleson, director of IT Services for USF Polytechnic, said USF has until July 31 to respond to the programs inquiry for interested universities. Gigabit Squared will announce the six winners between November 2012 and March 2013.

Ellis said if USF is not selected, there will be other opportunities to follow.

USF is broader than this one project, Ellis said. Gig Squared is just the first real offering to be rolled out, but we think there will be many other companies that want to join in. So if we participate in this and we are selected thats good, but there will be a number of other things we can opt into as well.