Colorado District Upgrades to Dedicated Fiber Network

In an effort to support educational and administrative technology initiatives, Cherry Creek School District No. 5 in Colorado is drastically upgrading its network capacity by moving to a dedicated fiber network, with a significant portion of the funding coming through the federal E-Rate program.

For the deployment, the district has joined with Qwest Communications in a 10-year, $11 million contract, which will see 65 schools, along with other facilities, connected with the Qwest GeoMax fiber network. Bandwidth will range from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps, depending on the site.

At the same time, the district is also deploying 1,000 wireless access points to take advantage of the expanded bandwidth and "ensure students and school district employees can connect to network resources using their own computers," according to information released by the district and Qwest.

"CCSD needed a network platform capable of delivering multiple technologies throughout the school system," said Ben Startzer, CIO for Cherry Creek SD, in a prepared statement. "With a dedicated fiber network, students and teachers can access the district's educational resources from anywhere, at any time. The extra bandwidth will keep us at the forefront as technology continues to change how we educate."

In addition to allowing greater access to educational resources, the new infrastructure will also allow the district to consolidate and centralize data systems in its data center. And it will let Cherry Creek SD implement a virtualized desktop infrastructure, which will also be hosted from the data center.

According to Qwest, "more than half" of the expense of the new infrastructure is being funded through E-Rate, which provides schools and libraries with discounts on telecommunications, Internet, and networking technologies and services.

The network is expected to be in place for the 2010-2011 school year.

Cherry Creek School District No. 5 serves nearly 49,000 students in 41 elementary schools, 13 middle schools, and seven high schools, as well as 24 preschool sites and 12 alternative education programs. Its 2009-2010 budget is expected to be $342.2 million.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

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