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More than two-dozen US universities are banding together to bring one-gigabit internet connections to their surrounding communities in the hope of attracting new startups and innovation.

The project, dubbed Gig.U, is little more than a work in progress. Witness the official press release announcing the project, which offers little more than a link to Wednesday's article from The New York Times. The plan involves universities seeking suggestions and business ideas from telecom companies, corporations and nonprofits.

One of the only tangible effects cited by the NYT is a pilot program in a several-block area surrounding Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. It offers one-gigabit fiber-optic networking to a whopping 104 homes. Case's CIO said within three months of its inauguration, three startups moved into the neighborhood.

Not that beefing up US networks is a bad idea. American bandwidth has long lagged behind what is found in Korea and other countries, typically ranking among the lowest of industrialized nations. But it's not clear what Gig.U will mean for the average American downloading a high-definition movie, unless she's lucky enough to inhabit one of the small academic islands taking part in the project.

In 2010, Google proposed building its own ultra high-speed networks to US homes. ®

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