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May 3, 2012 | last updated May 4, 2012 11:04 am

GWI to build high-speed network around UMaine

Biddeford-based GWI Inc. plans to build an ultra-high-speed Internet network surrounding the University of Maine campus to boost economic development. Part of the national Gig.U initiative, the network will be one of the fastest business-residential networks in the country.

The announcement was made yesterday by UMaine President Paul Ferguson, GWI CEO Fletcher Kittredge and national Gig.U Executive Director Blair Levin, who were joined by business and municipal leaders, according to a press release. The network will serve the Orono and Old Town communities and be Maine's first gigabit Internet network commercially available to both business and residential customers. GWI will install optical fiber to businesses and homes and make that network infrastructure available to any service provider who wants to offer service to customers within the network.

The network will be built out over two phases, the first reaching downtown districts and business-heavy parts of both Old Town and Orono. Phase 2 will expand that network based on demand and population density. Download speeds will be 125 times faster and upload speeds 1,000 times faster than current offerings, according to the release. Prices for residential customers will range from $59.95 to $89.95 per month, while prices for businesses will be consistent with current market rates and determined on an individual basis.

Gig.U — the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project — is a 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, enhance public-private-university partnerships and stimulate a new generation of innovation, according to the release. 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.

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