GRU, UF bring ultrahigh-speed broadband to Innovation Square

By Anthony Clark | The Gainesville Sun

Businesses and residents in and around Innovation Square will have access to ultrahigh-speed broadband connections through an initiative between Gainesville Regional Utilities and the University of Florida.

GRUCom, GRU’s telecommunications division, is launching the fiber-optic gigabit connectivity in Innovation Square on a limited basis later this month and will expand it to the rest of what officials are calling the Innovation District between UF’s main campus and downtown as the area develops, according to a Monday news release.

The Innovation District is between West University Avenue, Southwest Eighth Avenue, Southwest 13th Street and Southwest Sixth Street.

The effort is part of the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project — or Gig.U — a coalition of more than 30 research universities working with broadband providers to provide gigabit networks on campuses and surrounding areas to support high-tech businesses and research in areas such as health care and education.

“Entrepreneurs and technology leaders work in a competitive world where big ideas and enormous amounts of information need to move quickly,” UF President Bernie Machen said in the release. “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.”

Elias Eldayrie, UF vice president and chief information officer, said the goal is to bring gigabit connectivity to all of Gainesville, saying that someday that speed will be standard.

The service would be extended through a competitive bidding process open to any providers.

A gigabit is 1,000 megabits per second, fast enough to download a high-definition movie in less than a minute. It is up to 100 times faster than standard DSL or cable services, according to the release.

“The areas that hopefully this connectivity will help support include video streaming, data backups, applications that will be developed that otherwise couldn’t without this kind of connectivity to support research, telemedicine and other things,” Eldayrie said.

Innovation Square is being developed by UF and private developers as a place for high-tech companies, entrepreneurs, researchers and students to live and work. It currently includes UF’s Innovation Hub, a business incubator for high-tech companies, and the Ayers Building, which will house software company MindTree.

Customers will have gigabit connections to other customers within the district. UF students and employees in the district will also have remote access to campus networks.

The introductory price is $99 a month for residential service that includes 50-megabits-per-second Internet service, according to GRUCom. Business rates are determined on an individual basis.

Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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