It was disheartening when Fostoria City School District discovered they lacked sufficient space in their existing buildings, telecommunications rooms, and pathways, to upgrade their campus networks to take advantage of modern learning technology. Even more troubling was the fact that the costs for buying and operating these legacy copper-based networks, and upgrading them, have been steadily getting higher over the years.
This is exceedingly unfortunate as teachers rely on new technology to enhance their instructional methods and deliver engaging lessons to their students. They are hindered in their ability to create interactive and multimedia-rich learning experiences. As well as administrators rely heavily on modern technologies as they work to ensure a safe learning environment. Rising network equipment costs make it difficult for the school district to leverage next-generation technology to save money and apply their limited resources in the most responsible manner. It is the students that suffer the most. If the school cannot keep up with modern technology, they’ll start to fall behind, failing to adequately prepare students for the digital world they will encounter in the next grade level, in college, or in the workplace.
Fostoria City Schools first discovered a better way to build and operate networks based on the success that enterprise-focused Optical Local Area Networks (Optical LAN), based on Passive Optical Network (PON) technology, brought to many industries like hospitality, healthcare, government, corporations, and other educational institutions. That is when Fostoria City Schools decided to adopt an Optical LAN approach with its effective use of space (e.g., less equipment and material), extended reach for connecting powered Ethernet devices, energy efficiencies, long-term flexibility, and longevity. These were all important benefits to Fostoria City School District as Optical LAN allows them to continue to support devices they currently have, expand as technology improves, and take advantage of new technology that other districts do not have (Energy Savings Champions – Best Practices & Case Studies in Energy Reduction & Energy Efficiency in Ohio Schools Districts).
Less Space and Material
The advantage that Optical LAN brings to schools enabled Fostoria City Schools to serve multiple buildings spread across a large campus from one main equipment room. With a Optical Line Terminal (OLT) occupying less than 20 inches of vertical space (i.e., 11 rack units), the elementary grade building (e.g., pre-kindergarten to 6th grade), high school (e.g., 7th grade through 12th grade) and the Fostoria administration offices (including Board of Education offices) were all connected using fiber cabling. This single OLT connected the internet, internal resources, call manager telephone platform, Wi-Fi wireless network, interactive flat panel A/V system, IP video platform, plus IP intrusion detection and access control systems.
All the campus buildings only had network equipment mounted in the ceiling enclosures, thus eliminating the need for telecommunication rooms. By exiting telecommunications rooms, schools save money because they no longer need air conditioning, security, fireproofing, battery backup, and power in all those individual rooms (e.g., powering and battery backup is consolidated). This is all possible because a PON system can connect devices over 10 miles away over fiber that terminates at an Optical Network Terminal (ONT). The ONT serves as the optical to electrical media converter interface between the network and the far-reaching end devices spread out across the campus.
Traditional networks require significant power conversions and conditioning to operate reliably, while a PON consumes less power and thus emits fewer thermals. For Fostoria City Schools, 40-50% of network drops employ Power over Ethernet (PoE), so that adds an even greater powering load to energize IP CCTV cameras, IP phones, Wi-Fi access points, and security hubs. The typical legacy network powering scheme experiences a best-case 20% total loss on every watt of power delivered. However, the centralized DC powering scheme, used in a Fostoria Optical LAN design, experiences as low as 7% total loss on every watt of power delivered to the closet by the main service panel. Fostoria City Schools gained a 13% efficiency with PoE energy delivery with PON technology.
Flexibility and Longevity
With an Optical LAN architecture, 100% of the telecommunications rooms are eliminated yielding energy savings with the loss of AC units, and downsized generator requirements, while reducing building capital costs and opening additional building real estate for learning purposes. These savings are over the building’s lifetime, not simply one-time savings. In addition, all that fiber cabling is faster (e.g., greater capacity, bandwidth and can connect more devices), smaller, better bend, greener, lighter, safer, stronger, and more secure. An Optical LAN infrastructure (fiber, optical splitters, DC power plant, PON network electronics) will last at least twice the service life of traditional switched Ethernet network components. Even better, currently defined international standards allow for PON technologies to be upgraded to four times their existing capacity (e.g., 10G PON, 25G PON, 40G PON).
Award Winning Energy Savings Champions at Fostoria City Schools
The adoption of Tellabs Optical LAN by Fostoria City Schools District represents a significant change in the playing field as they advance forward in creating a modern and efficient learning environment for students and staff. By implementing a single PON design, that connects multiple buildings across the large campus, the district has achieved several benefits, including energy efficiency, effective use of space, removed distance limitations, long-term flexibility, and longevity. As a result, Fostoria City Schools District was awarded as a winning network design as it fosters innovation in educational technology that other districts can follow to improve the learning experience and prepare students for the future.
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