June 6, 2011
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
SRU anticipates pulling new high-speed fiber optic lines
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Underground survey work has been completed and Slippery Rock University is ready to begin installation of new fiber optic lines that will carry high-speed Internet connections across campus and the state as part of the extensive Pennsylvania Research and Education Network.
The Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research, known as “KINBER,” is designed to bring affordable, enhanced broadband services to a variety of users by stringing some 4,000 miles of fiber-optic lines statewide.
SRU had its participation level upgraded to service node status in February. Original plans had called for the University to serve as a core node on the $130-million network.
“We are now just looking at the way to install the actual lines along the ‘path of least resistance,’ meaning the most efficient installation possible,” said Simeon Ananou, SRU associate provost for information and administrative technology services.
As a service node on the statewide system, SRU has been charged with greater operational requirements and staffing. “We are still working out some of the contractual details regarding our responsibilities, such as how quickly we must respond should the system go offline and how will we credential non-University staff who may need access to the on-campus buildings and equipment,” Ananou said. “We are in the final phase of working out the actual site agreement.”
The overall, statewide system is to be completed by February 2013, but Ananou said the SRU portion is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.
He said actual fiber optic installation on campus would begin in the next month or two. “One of the benefits of using existing underground tunnels and conduit on campus is that we will be able to use abandoned cables in the underground facilities – and we will use those abandoned cables to pull the new lines.” He said in many cases the new fiber optic cables would be attached to the old, and then pulled through existing conduit.
“It took considerable time to survey where existing lines were located. The work was completed as a joint effort between the Information and Administrative Technology Services Office and staff in facilities and planning,” Ananou said.
“We had to keep in mind that we actually need to run two primary service lines to the central system equipment; the first being a primary service, and the second to serve as redundancy should there be a problem in the primary service. We had to bring in lines from two directions, in case one is ever knocked out. One line is being fed to Vincent Science Center, where operational equipment will be housed, from Keister Road; and the second will come along a path from Route 108 across the Vincent Property owned by the Slippery Rock University Foundation,” Ananou said. “The same applies to electrical power to the KINDER equipment, with an electrical generator installed to provide service should the regular power lines be interrupted.”
He said a major benefit to the campus is that one segment of the statewide project is a dedicated line that will link all 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities.
“This will be like a private network giving state system schools a shared resource on which they can share instructional materials in a more efficient manner without having to compete with the growing demand on the public portion of the network,” he said.
Another major benefit, and a primary a reason the project was funded, is its ability to help small- and mid-sized businesses in the region gain access to high-speed broadband network services as a reduced cost.
When completed, the network will offer affordable, enhanced broadband services to pre-K through 12 and higher education systems, health care networks, libraries, state and local governments and workforce/economic development entities. PennREN, through its operating entity, KINBER, is serving as coordinator for the construction and management of the statewide fiber optic network.
The PennREN network is to reach every region of the commonwealth with more than 44,000 square miles of coverage. The network will provide in excess of 4,082 miles of direct access to an estimated 5.1 million individuals in more than 2 million households and 204,193 businesses within the 10-mile radius of the community anchor institutions.
Businesses across Pennsylvania are also expected to take advantage of the system related to computer operations and information sharing.
Ananou said his staff remains excited that SRU is a “center” of the new network and the benefits it will bring both to the University and the entire region.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education has created a KINBER transition and design team and SRU is serving as a major player, Ananou said. “As a service node, we will provide storage facilities for equipment related to the network and will be involved in the provisioning of services to businesses making use of the system in our region.”
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration provided Pennsylvania with a $100 million grant in federal stimulus funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to launch the project. The remainder of the project's costs will come from matching funds.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.