Networking & Wireless

Billings District Upgrades Broadband Network

Billings Public Schools has replaced its aging copper-based network with a new FiberLAN system to provide broadband access throughout the district.

The school district picked Zhone Technologies' FiberLAN Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) in order to give students and faculty better Internet broadband access. The new network will now support 16,000 students and staff in 22 elementary schools and four middle schools.

Along with providing more access, it is expected that the new network will also result in cost savings due to reduced maintenance. At the same time, the Billings district took advantage of the FCC's E-rate program to fund much of the project, which is part of a larger five-year plan to upgrade all of its technology.

"Our goal is to maximize technology so we can provide an environment for our students to learn and develop their technology skills," said District Network Manager Larry Bybee. "With Zhone, we will continue to offer those high standards across our district."

The district worked with CTA Architects & Engineers in choosing Zhone Technologies and school district representatives said the package provided to them will result in $3 million in savings.

"As we started to research the project with copper, we realized we couldn't upgrade all of the schools because the cost to rewire them all was too great," Bybee said. "Then our technology consultant, Kris Good of CTA, suggested we check out GPON."

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.