Aggressive outside plant network will connect Texas schools

An installation team is now completing an advanced outside plant telecommunications network that will connect two central Texas school districts.

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An installation team is now completing an advanced outside plant telecommunications network that will connect two central Texas school districts.


Contractors install fiber at Pond Springs Elementary School in the Round Rock Independent School District. The project called for singlemode fiber, and the installation teams built the outside plant network, taking the fiber to each building's equipment room.
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OTM Engineering, an Austin, TX-based technology engineering and consulting firm, and its clients, Round Rock Independent School District and Leander Independent School District, have worked with Grande Communications to build the two new communications networks. The projected construction cost and fiber for Round Rock's network will be $3 million and Leander's fiber infrastructure is valued at $2 million. The final outcome will be a shared optical-fiber network designed to open up each school district's bandwidth capabilities.

"The Internet will become even more important as a teaching tool in the next few years," says Round Rock Superintendent of Schools, Tom Gaul. "The district has looked ahead and has realized that we must improve our communications infrastructure now in order to meet the increased bandwidth demands necessary to deliver a curriculum for 21st century skills. The compatibility of the Round Rock and Leander networks could lead to shared educational resources and reduced operating expenses in the future."

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Leander's network will consist of about 100 fiber miles while Round Rock's network will consist of more than 170 fiber miles. Each network will offer Internet access, multimedia streaming capabilities, data-intensive computer operations, videoconferencing, distance learning, and telephone service.

Leander's network will serve about 17,000 students and more than 2,000 staff members, and Round Rock's network will serve about 32,600 students and 4,200 staff. Both installations are due to be complete in October.

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The new networks, which were designed by OTM, will allow Round Rock and Leander to support both current and future high-bandwidth technology applications on more reliable networks.

The installation team was asked to build a robust backbone for the network that all schools could "bleed" into. Ninety percent of the outside plant installation is aerial, while 10% is underground.

The project called for singlemode fiber, and the installation teams built the outside plant network, taking the fiber to each building's equipment room. This provided point-to-point connectivity between the school buildings.

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OTM designed the optical fiber cable backbone and electronics. The designers came up with a ring topology design for both districts, which would connect all of the buildings in the district. The contractors would install all new fiber between the campuses. These would connect the 41 buildings in the Round Rock district and the 16 buildings in he Leander district.

"This advanced equipment would let both districts implement high-speed, high bandwidth right at the onset," says Bill Neyland, vice president of operations for OTM. "And it would allow for tremendous growth in the future."

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