Networking Infrastructure | News

Colorado Districts Overhaul Networks, Move to Fiber

Two K-12 districts in Colorado have upgraded their networks to support technology initiatives for their schools and administrative facilities, offering enhanced access to educational tools, voice and data services, and data protection via high-speed fiber and hybrid copper/fiber infrastructure.

Cherry Creek School District No. 5 began its migration around this time last year, with a significant portion of the funding coming through the federal E-Rate program. For the deployment, the district signed on 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.

The upgrade is part of the district's "Guaranteed & Viable Technology" initiative, which is focused on delivering current technology to teachers and students in order to provide them with "tools that transform the teaching and learning experience," according to Cherry Creek SD. Among other things, the new network is supporting Internet access to each classroom for various educational applications, including streaming video. As part of the initiative, the district is also providing classrooms with Internet-connected tablet PCs and upgrading classroom AV systems with new projectors and audio systems.

"By expanding our partnership with Qwest, we're on a path to reach our goal of elevating the performance of all students and closing the achievement gap between the highest- and lowest-performing students," said Ben Startzer, chief information officer for Cherry Creek, in a statement released today. "By leveraging Qwest technology, the district is helping ensure that all students graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century."

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, implement new voice and data communications technologies, and protect data as part of a disaster recover/business continuity plan.

According to Qwest, a large portion 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.

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.

Another Colorado district, Jeffco Public Schools, has upgraded its infrastructure with Qwest, rolling out the company's Metro Optical Ethernet data service in an effort to meet its objective of providing students with a 21st Century learning environment.

More than 150 Jeffco schools are being served by the service, which will enable the district to provide (or better support) online courses, a fully online campus, Internet-based testing, distance learning for teacher professional development, and other educational services.

"Our new Qwest network helps position our students for a bright future by integrating technology to offer a superior education," said Brett Miller, executive director of Jeffco's infrastructure services, also in a prepared statement. "The financial challenges of late make us acutely aware of our responsibility to ensure resources are invested wisely in the education of our children. Our new Qwest network helps us execute on that goal and is robust enough to grow as we do."

The upgraded network is also being used as part of the district's disaster recovery/business continuity plan.

Jeffco serves about 85,000 students in 94 elementary schools, 20 middle schools, 17 high schools, one online school, 14 charter schools, and various other campuses and programs.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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