City officials on Monday announced Lincoln has been designated as a Smart Gigabit Community.
The designation, which comes from U.S. Ignite Inc., a nonprofit organization that works to advance technology, makes Lincoln one of only about 30 communities nationwide.
Lincoln joins cities such as Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Austin, Texas, in the program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation.
To be designated a Smart Gigabit Community, cities must partner with universities, nonprofits, telecommunications providers and others.
In Lincoln, the city is collaborating with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Allo Communications and Fuse Co-working.
As part of the program, cities must commit to developing two gigabit applications each year, and Lincoln's first one is developing software to take advantage of unused wireless spectrum to create a citywide gigabit wireless network to allow radios to both broadcast on and listen to multiple frequencies, said David Young, the city's fiber, infrastructure and right-of-way manager.
Other applications could potentially come from the private sector, as entrepreneurs, companies, students or others could submit an idea or work off of other ideas already moving forward in other communities in the program.
“The goal is for Lincoln to create a digital town square available to students, entrepreneurs and businesses,” Mayor Chris Beutler said. “The digital town square will help them develop applications to better compete in the digital economy.”
Beutler said the city's 2012 investment in a downtown fiber conduit helped lay the groundwork to get to where it is today, now with almost 500 miles of conduit leased to eight broadband companies.
One of those companies, Allo, is more than halfway done with its project to bring fiber to all of Lincoln, which includes more than 105,000 residences and more than 20,000 businesses.
"We look forward to being involved with the Smart Gigabit Community teams to develop next-generation gigabit applications," said Jeff Kuenne, Allo's chief technologist and one of the company's co-founders. "Gigabit networks can, and will, provide so much more than merely faster internet and the elimination of buffering," he said.
To learn more about Ignite U.S. and the Smart Gigabit Communities program, go to: www.us-ignite.org/.