Contractors choose low-cost fiber network for Washington school district project

The system is designed to significantly lower fiber deployment costs by using new optical cable technologies that can use diverse right-of-ways to connect the district's administration offices to school locations.

Washington's state's North Shore School District is installing a fiber network so it can offer its students expanded bandwidth capabilities.

For the project, contractors chose OFS' (www.ofsoptics.com) Access Advantage, which will be used to connect the schools via an optical-fiber communication system.

The plan is designed to give the North Shore school district a low-cost, easily deployable optical-fiber network. The system would also enable the district to easily expand its bandwidth capacity in the future. Fiber can be deployed as needed, based on school district growth.

The installation by Graybar-Evergreen Utility Contractors (www.euci.org), based in Woodinville, WA, began in June and will take a few months to complete.

"The school district is now enabled with higher data rates for communication transfers between schools as well as more bandwidth for classrooms to access the Internet at a quicker speed,"explains Bill Hunsinger of Graybar-Evergreen Utility Contractors. "The flexible solution offers us the opportunity to grow as needed and as budget permits."

Representatives from OFS, based in Norcross, GA, say the Access Advantage system is designed to significantly lower fiber deployment costs by using new optical cable technologies that can use diverse right-of-ways to connect the district administration offices to school locations.

By pulling the fiber into the existing duct networks, installers avoid the costs of invasive and disruptive excavation and procurement of rights-of-way.

"We are starting to see this system pay off for end users," says Laura Huffman, director of global product marketing, cable and connectivity for OFS.

Before going ahead with the plan, OFS conducted a cost model analysis on the district. "We tested things out to make sure that they would work, and that this would be a really cost-effective way to install the medium," says Huffman.

The contractor's goal is to connect 27 schools through a point-to-point cable application. The final installation will involve one cable drop per school, using cables with 12 to 20 fibers each.

Contractors used an aerial installation plan, pulling fiber over telephone lines, through existing microducts. The installation is making use of distribution points in each school, connecting the cables to a central office. This will enable the district to provide each student with a personal computer.

Officials also hope the system will give the district higher data rates for communication transfers between schools, and increased bandwidth that will enable faster classroom access to the Internet .

"This [installation] will be able to provide the district with communication between each school for content, distance learning, video education, conference calls and parent/teacher calls," says Steven Race, FTTX business development manager for OFS. "They will have fiber there for extra bandwidth growth in the future."

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