The Chapel Hill Town Council should fast track the Gig.U initiative moving forward.
The project, which has been proposed to the Town Council, aims to bring high-speed broadband to the communities surrounding leading research universities, such as UNC, at a low cost.
If utilized in Chapel Hill, Gig.U could bring better and faster Internet access to schools, libraries and homes in the area, which will be especially beneficial to those located in low-income neighborhoods.
In its endorsement of the Gig.U initiative, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce emphasized that town residents are living in a digital, knowledge-based economy, and the incorporation of a strong broadband infrastructure will be valuable when it comes to employing and maintaining a smart workforce.
Cutting through the technical jargon, the chamber is essentially right. It is not enough for just the University to have access to high speed Internet.
The infrastructure that Gig.U would bring could be beneficial to all types of workers in the region. Workers who can’t afford access to adequate Internet will have a hard time competing. The same is true for children in the community.
It is equally important that Chapel Hill does its utmost to bridge the digital divide that exists within the community.
Also, the town should prioritize bang for the buck when choosing a provider. Having providers compete will help keep the costs of the infrastructure down and increase the amount of incentives vendors are willing to give the town in exchange for their work.
Further investigation into the initiative won’t require the town to accept any offers from vendors just yet, but it will be a sign that the town is headed in a more equitable direction. There’s no harm in exploring options.
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