Networking & Wireless

Alaska School Deploys Passive Optical LAN

Grace Christian School, a K-12 school in Anchorage, AK, has upgraded to a passive optical local area network (LAN) to provide increased bandwidth and reliable connectivity for the school's 60 teachers and 600 students.

Over the past three years, the school has purchased $100,000 worth of technology, including Smart Boards, interactive projectors and Apple TVs. However, teachers were reluctant to use the technology in their classrooms because the school's network infrastructure used category 5/5e (CAT5) copper cabling, which resulted in lack of bandwidth, signal degradation and dropped connections. The school wanted to upgrade its infrastructure to support the growing number of networked devices throughout its large campus and also provide parents with access to a campus intranet.

The school partnered with DSI, a local communications infrastructure company, and DSI recommended Zhone Technologies' FiberLAN system. The two companies collaborated to to implement Zhone's gigabit passive optical LAN. According to information on Zhone Technologies' site, its FiberLAN system can provide high speed data, voice and video to multi-level, multi-unit complexes.

Since implementing the new system, teachers have increased their use of networked devices in the classroom because they no longer worry about wasting valuable class time with slow or dropped connections. The school's IT team has also reported a significant reduction in operating and maintenance issues, and the small team now has more time to focus on other work.

"The Zhone solution gave us connectivity everywhere — it's like being on a new campus," said Terry Thornhill, chief technology officer at the school, in a prepared statement. "I don't have to spend two or three hours of every day working on the infrastructure. I haven't had a single ONT fail and I don't have to deal with a fiber connection not working like it's supposed to. Teachers don't have their workstations dropping off the network. Everything works like it's supposed to, every time."

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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