Increased bandwidth supports schools’ digital transformation

Sep. 06, 2013 @ 04:58 AM

Moore County Schools’ Digital Learning Transformation has received a major boost with the completion of an upgraded network system that increases the district’s digital bandwidth tenfold.

With a three-year plan to see a digital device in the hands of all students, digital communication becoming a daily occurrence in the school system, and North Carolina’s goal to see all state testing online, the upgrade is described as being not only necessary, but timely.

“The completion of this project is a tremendous boon to the Digital Learning Transformation taking place in our district,” said Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence. “Our new network infrastructure provides the ‘backbone’ for delivering the rich, engaging and up-to-date educational content that students and teachers will access on devices at the schools on a daily basis. As we move through the pilot phases this year, the district will have the bandwidth to support a connected student and teacher population.”

The state provides free Internet to the district through the N.C. Research and Education Network (NCREN); however, delivering that service throughout the district and among schools is the responsibility of the school district. School officials say the extra bandwidth provides enhanced speeds over the entire district and between all schools at a level of interaction and collaboration unavailable to the schools until now. “In addition to Internet services, the increased WAN (Wide Area Network) bandwidth will allow us to provide more streaming and interactive services to the schools, including video collaboration and cloud resources,” said Spence. Cloud resources include Google Apps for Education, Edmodo, Discovery Education and other online services.

The state has also implemented a new student database and information system called HomeBase that will also benefit from the improved bandwidth. Now teachers and students will be able to use the online resources throughout the school day without over-taxing the network even as other online bandwidth intensive activities are taking place throughout the District. Spence also noted that when the state completes its plan to have all testing online, the requirement that all students will take tests on the same date and at the same time makes the augmented bandwidth a necessity.

BroadPlex, a fiber optic telecommunication company based in Morganton, was contracted following a bid process to complete the work of installing lines and provide ongoing service. According to school district Chief Finance Officer Mike Griffin, the district is receiving 10 times the bandwidth and at a lower cost than from the school district’s previous provider. He said over the life of the contract with BroadPlex, the district expects to save approximately $40,000.

BroadPlex concentrates their efforts on providing high-quality and low-cost network services to education and business customers. They are a native North Carolina based Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) with an extensive fiber network in place throughout the Carolinas.

“It is difficult to describe what a massive undertaking the installation of the new WAN was,” said the school district’s Chief Technology Officer Tony Tuso. “Over half a million feet of fiber cable was placed in-ground throughout the County in less than four months.”

He added, “The successful completion of the project for implementation in the 2013-14 school year is a credit to the collaboration of Moore County Schools Maintenance Department for taking time out of a typically busy summer to mark the school locations for fiber installations and provide guidance on utilities locations on and near the school campuses, Paul Jordan, BroadPlex’s project manager coordinating the efforts of all of BroadPlex’s installation crews throughout the county while also administrating engineering and NC-DOT permitting requirements, and Moore County government offices who shared considerable historical knowledge of the existing underground utility infrastructures, as well as the patience of many members of the Moore County community at-large who may have been inconvenienced due to the work that was taking place along roads throughout the county.”