Mozilla expands its National Gigabit Project to Austin

Mozilla will provide $150,000 in grant funding to spur creation of new technologies.

Austin has been chosen as the next stop for Mozilla's national gigabit project, which provides funding for ideas that leverage next-generation Internet technology.

Mozilla -- the nonprofit tech company behind the Firefox browser -- will provide $150,000 in grant funding to local projects and tools that make use of the city's Google Fiber network.

The goal is to spark new educational technologies that create a more connected community and allow people of all ages and backgrounds to participate on the next-generation Web.

In Chattanooga and Kansas City, where the project launched in 2014, current plans include building gigabit-powered microscopes, a virtual reality link between local schools, and ultra-HD streaming .

In past years, Gigabit Fund grant recipients have built real-time water quality monitoring systems, a mobile coding app for elementary students and 3D learning tools for classrooms.

Austin, which is the third city to participate, was selected over two dozen contenders across the U.S., officials said.

"Austin stood out due to its existing city-wide digital inclusion plan, active developer community and growing informal education landscape," said Mark Surman, Mozilla's executive director. "When you couple lightning-fast Internet with innovative projects in the realms of education and workforce development, amazing things can happen."

The funding will likely back 10 to 20 Austin projects over the next few years.

In addition, Mozilla is creating Gigabit Hive Austin, a network of individuals, schools, nonprofits, museums and other local organizations interested in teaching and learning new Web technologies. Hive Austin will be one of 14 Mozilla Hive network and communities across four continents that teach Web literacy and new technology skills.

ExploreGoogle announced plans for superfast 1-gigabit Internet service in Austin in 2013, and has since essentially been building its service here from scratch. The initial rollout has been in parts of South and Southeast Austin, with plans to expand over time. Google hasn't said how long that could take.

The Mozilla Gigabit Community Gigabit fund is a joint initiative between Mozilla, the National Science Foundation and US Ignite.

Mozilla will open the first round of grant applications in Austin in August, and accept applications through Oct. 18. Applicants and projects don't have to be from Austin originally, but must be launched locally.

For more information on the application process, go here.