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TechPad wants to set up a 1-gigabit connection to support the growing number of startups.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
TechPad’s fundraising campaign to bring next-generation Internet speeds and free public Wi-Fi to Blacksburg reached its goal with less than seven hours remaining Wednesday evening.
Bob Summers, founder of the local business incubator, says he can now start working to have the wireless network up and running by the time Virginia Tech students return in August.
The donations, which totaled $91,400 from 179 contributors, will also fund downtown Blacksburg’s first 1-gigabit Internet connection. TechPad used to offer a shared workspace to high-tech startups with connection speeds around 5 megabits per second. With the new connection, that speed will be closer to 200 megabits.
“TechPad is a community of creators,” Summers said. “They send a lot of their work up into the Internet. And they’re restricted by a very small pipe that is about to become about 500 times faster than what they have right now.”
One-gigabit connection speeds are rare outside of major cities. According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, just 3.17 percent of the U.S. population had access in 2012.
But even where it’s available, access often costs far more than traditional Internet. But Summers said TechPad’s rates will still cost $75 a month for those wishing to reserve a desk in the downtown workspace.
The fundraising campaign was hosted on Crowdtilt.com, a site that sets a minimum fundraising threshold. If the target isn’t hit, all donations are refunded to the contributors. After four weeks of talking to corporate donors and putting up signs around town, TechPad hit its $85,000 goal with less than seven hours remaining.
“It’s validating that the community really wanted this project to succeed,” Summers said. “The vast majority of contributors are from Blacksburg. But there are people who contributed from California, Texas, Massachusetts. … So for a stranger to contribute to this kind of project, that’s just remarkable to me.”
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