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Florida State U-Net ready for tomorrow.

Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla., made a transition from a broadband coax network to a fiberoptic backbone network, enabling the university to meet its goal of providing state-of-the-art telecomm services to all students, faculty, staff and administrators. The optical network, called U-Net (for university network), not only meets users' needs today, but also provides the capacity for worry-free expansions to high-performance voice, data and video applications in the future.

Network evaluation began in 1989 by FSU's Office of Telecommunications (OTC). At that time, the university supported a 330 Mhz broadband coaxial cable system, which linked the main campus and the new 208-acre research facility, Innovation Park, some 2.6 miles to the southwest. Ethernet services were throttled back to only 5 Mb/s due to the inherent bandwidth limitations of 6 Mhz channels on the coaxial system.

Services needed to be expanded to encompass all university buildings. Although the coaxial cable had done an adequate job in the past, emerging network requirements were quickly exceeding the capacity of the existing system. Future network needs were well beyond the coaxial system's capabilities.

OTC determined that the cost to upgrade the existing coaxial backbone and install new coax cable to other parts of the campus would cost about the same as installing an entirely new fiber-optic outside plant facility. It was determined that a fiber-optic system would enable the university to expand its capabilities for many years down the road.

Fiber-optic technology offers FSU advantages such as protection against lightning damage--a critical concern in Florida--elimination of radio frequency interference, immunity to crosstalk, machine noise and atmospheric discharges, and communications over greater distances.

The capacity for greater distances means signals can be sent from the main campus to Innovation Park--once a problem due to their separation by major thoroughfares.

FSU included single mode fibers which carry transmission rates of almost unlimited bandwidths. With a fiber network FSU can upgrade beyond the 10 Mb/s, gaining connectivity with telco COs across the country.

FSU-OTC's list of requirements was long:

* All-dielectric cable construction for installation in aerial and underground duct;

* FDDI-compliant, multimode and single mode fibers;

* Dual wavelength operation over a wide range of environmental operating temperatures;

* Custom cable labeling:

* Composite design (multimode and single mode fibers in one sheath); and

* Fiber color coding to meet Rural Electrification Association standards.

OTC worked closely with several companies; however, the winning combination turned out to be Siecor and Anixter Bros.

Siecor recommended its Universal Transport System (UTS) family of cables and termination hardware. Siecor offered a multipurpose composite cable design that included dual wavelength fiber and high grade optical performance: (1) Multimode fiber cables capable of operating at 160 MHz km at 850 nm and 500MHz km at 1330 nm; and (2) Single mode fiber cables capable of operating at 1310 nm and 1550 nm.

The composite cable design, incorporating both multimode and single mode fibers within the same cable sheath, provides FSU with the flexibility to upgrade U-Net to higher speed systems without installing additional cables.

In addition, FSU wanted to assign specific applications to specific fibers and bundles of fibers, making it easier to identify fibers during rearrangements, upgrades or cable repairs. And, it was important for FSU to provide optimum protection to the fibers.

The loose tube cable design, recommended by Siecor for the backbone and building runs, protects fibers in oversized, gel-filled buffer tubes. The loose tube fiber segregation feature permitted FSU to determine the number of fibers within each buffer tube, and then assign buffer tubes to specific applications. A color scheme identifies the applications to which its fibers are assigned.

Within the next two years, plans to extend the main campus fiber backbone include the Leon County Civic Center, State of Florida Department of Education and the Tallahassee City Hall. Later additions include connecting the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University to Innovation Park. When this loop is closed, a campus-wide networking system will be in place.

A total of 18 buildings have fiber access, over 1,000 Ethernet nodes are being serviced, and FDDI service over the backbone began in May.

Since a new Northern Telecom SL-100 phone switch was installed in 1988, OTC has installed integrated voice mail, alternate operator services, 2,500 private cable TV outlets in all the dorm rooms and has changed out 8,000 phone instruments. FSU now has its own customer calling card for long-distance service and offers paging services to the university.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Florida State transitions from a broadband coax network to fiber optics
Author:Friedrich, Charles
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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