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University of Maine Becomes One of the Fastest Moving “Gig.U” Universities in the Country: GWI’s Gigabit Main Street Network to Drive Economic Development in Orono and Old Town

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Orono, Maine – University of Maine President Paul Ferguson, GWI CEO Fletcher Kittredge, national Gig.U executive director Blair Levin were joined today by local and regional business and municipal leaders to announce GWI, Inc.’s plans to build an ultra-high-speed, Gigabit Main Street Internet Network in the Old Town and Orono communities surrounding the University of Maine campus to drive innovation and create economic opportunity.  The completed network will give the Maine communities an Internet network as fast as any in the world and be one of the fastest business-residential networks in the United States.

The GWI-built network will be the first gigabit Internet network commercially available to both business and residential customers in the state of Maine. The University of Maine is one of the fastest-moving and leading innovators of the nationwide Gig.U initiative.  Gig.U — The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project – is a broad-based group of 37 leading research universities across the United States seeking to accelerate the deployment of ultra-high-speed networks to leading U.S. universities and their surrounding communities. The creation of these networks will drive economic growth and stimulate a new generation of innovation.  New York Times columnist and author Tom Friedman wrote that the Gig.U effort to create ultra-high-speed networks and applications in university towns is “the only way we can maintain a middle class.” (“So Much Fun. So Irrelevant,” NYT, 1/3/12)

“The University of Maine is committed to serving as a catalyst for technological, economic and job development in the state of Maine,” said UMaine President Paul Ferguson.  “This new Gigabit Main Street network is a perfect example of how we intend to bring people from the public and private sector and the university community together to drive innovation and create economic opportunity.”

Blair Levin, executive director of the national Gig.U initiative, noted at the announcement Wednesday that the University of Maine was one of the first institutions to sign-up to participate in Gig.U and is now one of the first to move forward, in partnership with GWI, to make the idea of Gig.U a reality in Old Town and Orono, Maine. “This GWI Gigabit Main Street deployment will not just benefit the University of Maine community; it will provide Orono, Old Town, and the state of Maine with the strategic bandwidth advantage necessary to lead in the next generation of broadband innovation,” Levin said.

“GWI has always worked to bring innovation and technology together in a way that creates economic opportunity for Maine people,” said GWI, Inc CEO Fletcher Kittredge.  “We were proud to partner with the University to bring the Three Ring Binder network to Maine, which runs from Kittery to Fort Kent and is now owned and run by Maine Fiber Company.  And we are glad to be here today marking another first: The first Gigabit Main Street network available to both business and residential customers in the state of Maine.  This network will be open-access for any company that wants to offer service to customers, and we hope our success here in Old Town and Orono will lead to the development of other networks and increased economic opportunity in university and rural communities across our state.”

“GWI’s Gigabit Main Street network is a great development for businesses in Old Town and Orono,” said Brian Rahill, CEO of RainStorm Consulting, a software development company in Orono that will be one of the first area businesses to benefit from the initiative.  “Having the ability to plug into gigabit network speeds is going to give my company and others in the area a competitive advantage, allowing us to connect seamlessly with clients across the country via high-definition video conference and remote presentations.  We will continue to grow and add jobs right here in Orono without having to move to a bigger market in Maine or beyond.”

The Orono-Old Town Gigabit Main Street Network, Powered By GWI

GWI’s Orono-Old Town Gigabit Main Street network will be built out over two initial phases based on customer demand and network use.  Phase 1 will quickly build out and reach downtown districts and business-heavy parts of both Old Town and Orono.  Phase 2 will expand on Phase 1, based on demand and population density.

The Gigabit Main Street network will provide 125x faster download speeds and 1000x faster upload speed than current offerings.  The network will be built on an open-access model, meaning that GWI will install optical fiber to the business and home and make that network infrastructure available to any service provider who wants to offer service to customers within the network.  The network will also be mixed-use, meaning that it will serve both business and residential customers.

Gigabit Main Street - Ultra High Speed Internet Access In Maine - Phase 1 and 2 of Orono and Old Town (Phase 1, Phase 2 and beyond to be built based on consumer and market demand.)

What the Old Town-Orono Gigabit Main Street network will mean for businesses and consumers

The difference in performance available to both residential and business customers on the Gigabit Main Street network powered by GWI will be dramatic, comparable to the move from dial-up to current “broadband” speeds – at roughly the same price as their current service.  Dial-up modems delivered speeds of 30 to 56k.  Current broadband speeds are in the neighborhood of 8000k.  GWI’s Gigabit Main Street Network will offer speeds up to 125 times faster than that.

Residential customers on GWI’s Gigabit Main Street network will have access to download speeds that are approximately 125 times faster than current broadband services, and as much bandwidth for uploads – a 1000-fold improvement over current residential connections.  This means home users will be able to stream multiple high-definition videos simultaneously, share high-definition videos and pictures with ease, and make clearer phone calls.  The additional bandwidth will be offered at rates that are comparable to existing services.  GWI will begin offering residential service on the Gigabit Main Street network for $59.95 per month for a quarter gigabit and $89.95 for a full gigabit.

Business customers will gain access to a faster, more reliable broadband network that supports supports skip-free, clear, high-definition video conferencing, high-quality voice over IP, and seamless integration of cloud computing solutions.  Business pricing will be similarly consistent with current market rates and determined on an individual basis per normal industry practice.

Maine’s Congressional Delegation on the Old Town-Orono Gigabit Main Street network

Senator Olympia Snowe:

“Without question, broadband is a necessity for individuals and businesses alike—it provides better access to jobs, education, government, and transforms local markets into global ones.  With this expansion of ultra-high speed broadband to Orono and Old Town, these communities will experience the boundless benefit the Internet has to offer on every facet of our daily lives. It will also guarantee Maine businesses and entrepreneurs have access to the necessary advanced broadband infrastructure that will help them continue to drive strong economic growth and create 21st century jobs.”

Senator Susan Collins:

“Particularly in a rural state such as Maine, expanding Internet access is key to keeping up with global competition and to attracting and maintaining economic growth.  I commend the University of Maine, the University of Maine System, GWI, Gig U, the City of Old Town and the Town of Orono for working together in a public-private partnership to invest in next-generation broadband capabilities that will help open up a world of information, resources, and services.”

Congressman Mike Michaud:

“High-speed internet connections are not only desirable, they are critical to boosting our nation’s research and development infrastructure and the competitiveness of our businesses. The partners involved with this project should be commended for their vision. Efforts like this will help rebuild our economy and position us for future growth.”

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree:

“This is an exciting opportunity where Maine is leading – developing some of the most advanced, ultra-high-speed Internet networks available anywhere in the world.  This Gigabit Main Street network is going to help create economic opportunity and innovation for existing and new businesses.  The University of Maine, GWI, leaders from Old Town and Orono and the local business community have really done a great job working together to make this initiative a reality. I’m confident this success will lead to similar networks across Maine.

About GWI

Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Biddeford, Maine, GWI is a leader in Northern New England’s telecommunication industry offering innovative and cost-effective telephone and Internet solutions designed for residential and business customers.  GWI has been named one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing private companies in America four times, and in 2011, CEO Fletcher Kittredge was named Maine’s Business Leader of the Year by the state’s leading business publication, MaineBiz. With friendly 24/7 Maine-based customer support and best-in-breed technology to ensure fast, secure, and reliable access, GWI makes the Internet easy for business and residential customers. GWI is the local, independent company that knows Maine people. If you’re looking for a local alternative, a company that listens to you and will respond quickly, connect with GWI.  Call toll free 866-494-2020 or contact us online to get connected now (http://www.gwi.net/About_GWI/contact_gwi.php).

About the University of Maine

The University of Maine, founded in Orono in 1865, is the state’s premier public university. It is among the most comprehensive higher education institutions in the Northeast and attracts students from across the U.S. and more than 80 countries. It currently enrolls 11,200 total undergraduate and graduate students who can directly participate in groundbreaking research working with world-class scholars. Students are offered more than 90 undergraduate majors and academic programs, 75 master’s degree programs, 30 doctoral programs and one of the oldest and most prestigious honors programs in the U.S. The university promotes environmental stewardship on its campus, with substantial efforts aimed at conserving energy, recycling and adhering to green building standards in new construction. For more information about UMaine, visit umaine.edu.

About the University of Maine System

Established in 1968, the University of Maine System is the state’s largest educational enterprise. It has an annual enrollment of more than 40,000 students and serves more than 500,000 individuals annually through educational and cultural offerings. Two-thirds of its alumni — approximately 120,000 people — live in Maine. The University of Maine System features seven universities — some with multiple campuses — located across the state, as well as nine University College outreach centers, a law school, and an additional 75 interactive distance learning sites. For more information, visit think.maine.edu.

About Gig-U

The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, or Gig.U, is a broad-based group of 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 ultra-high-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.  Our mission is simple: accelerate the deployment of world-leading, next generation networks in the United States in a way that provides an opportunity to lead in the next generation of ultra high speed network services and applications.

For more information or to speak with GWI leadership, please contact Tom Janenda at tjanenda@elevate-cc.com or (207) 590-8815.  To speak with a University of Maine spokesperson, please contact Margaret Nagle at (207) 581-3745.


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