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Pennsbury Schools Launch District-Wide Metropolitan Area Network Based On New-Generation 3Com Systems.

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 2, 1999--

Eastern Pennsylvania District Offers University-Quality Multimedia

and Internet Services In Every Classroom Via 3Com's CoreBuilder

9000 Enterprise Switch

3Com Corporation (NASDAQ:COMS) today announced that Pennsbury School District in suburban eastern Pennsylvania has standardized its new district-wide ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) metropolitan area network (MAN) on high-speed 3Com systems. The 12,000-user network is a major component of Pennsbury's new $9.2 million technology infrastructure and runs on a redundant 622 megabits per second (Mbps) ATM backbone comprised of four next generation 3Com CoreBuilder(R) 9000 enterprise switches. The network also relies on 32 CoreBuilder 7000 ATM switches at the network edge and 650 SuperStack(R) II 3300 Fast Ethernet switches, which deliver 100 Mbps desktop connections to thousands of students, 784 teachers and 100 administrators at the district's 16 schools.

Located in a part of Pennsylvania rich in Revolutionary War history, Pennsbury is a fast-expanding suburban area where farmland is rapidly giving way to housing for commuters who work not just in nearby Philadelphia and Trenton, but also in New York City. The school district, which spans about 50 square miles, has 1,200 classrooms and 11,206 students in 16 buildings: 11 elementary schools housing grades K-5, three middle schools serving grades 6-8, and two high schools. In order to address the technological needs of the growing school system, the Pennsbury school board held a bond referendum in December 1997 to raise $9.2 million for a world-class technology infrastructure of which the new network is a major component.

Completed this April, the new network extends to every Pennsbury classroom, where the district maintains six interconnected PCs for students and one for the teacher. With speed and power comparable to advanced university and corporate networks, students rapidly access the universe of information available on the World Wide Web --from databases to encyclopedias -- for classroom learning. Students also will have their own email accounts, which allow them to collaborate on school projects with their own teachers and classmates, other students and teachers elsewhere in the district and peers around the world. Email also connects students with professionals in the Pennsbury community who have volunteered to share their expertise as informal mentors. In addition, students at the district's two high schools may enroll in NetPrep, a two-year program designed by 3Com which introduces juniors and seniors to careers in network management and prepares them to obtain an associate's degree in network administration.

The district also will soon set up networked video servers, making it possible to send full-motion video of educational content on cell division, geometry, history and other subjects to every classroom. Pennsbury further plans to use the network for distance learning, enabling teachers to broadcast classes to multiple locations and guest lecturers' to multicast their presentations to several classrooms at once.

The new 3Com network is also making administrative tasks easier and more efficient. Instead of recording grades by hand in a paper gradebook, teachers now input and access them via network-driven software like GradeQuick and Excelsior Grade. Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer make clerical work and Web browsing fast and simple. A network-based bidding system allows the district to put supply contracts out to bid with minimal paperwork. The school is also using an educational enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution called T.E.R.M.S. to handle human resources, payroll, report cards and attendance in a single integrated package. Finally, the district's Web site provides numerous opportunities for parents to contact their children's teachers, check on homework assignments and learn about parent-teacher conferences and other events.

"Preparing students for the challenges of the next century means teaching them how to use technology to help them learn," said Dan DiLorenzo, Pennsbury's director of information technologies. "Using 3Com systems, Pennsbury is enabling our faculty to achieve both these objectives. We're also communicating more effectively with parents and have eliminated a lot of paperwork that is saving teachers and administrators a huge amount of time and significantly raising their productivity."

Fast, Scalable 3Com Technology More Than Makes The Grade

Pennsbury School District's new network grew out of its need to bring an aging technology infrastructure up to date while building a system that could deliver academic computing to the classroom and expand to meet future needs. Previously, administration computing took place from remote sites via telephone dialups, while students had access to computers in labs using PCs hard-wired to each other to form small local area networks (LANs). These LANs supported a handful of educational software programs, but were unsuited for multimedia services and could not access the Internet.

To optimize both academic and administrative services for the new millennium, Pennsbury Schools launched its $9.2 million technology project, which included funding for a high-speed network. Choosing ATM because of its strong support for multimedia, such as full motion video and distance learning, Pennsbury evaluated solutions from IBM, Lucent, Hewlett-Packard and 3Com. The district was particularly impressed by 3Com's willingness to help design and build the network, which was complemented by the superior speed and performance of its flagship CoreBuilder 9000 enterprise switch and supporting edge devices (egworkgroupswitches).

"3Com gave us all the networking power we needed at a very fair price," DiLorenzo said. "The CoreBuilder 9000 provides a scalable backbone architecture that will support all the applications we're doing today and all the voice, video and data services we're planning for the next 10 years. The SuperStack II Switch 3300 also offers us an affordable Fast Ethernet switch so we can distribute 100 Mbps to our desktops - something few K-12 schools today provide."

The heart of the district's new MAN consists of the four redundant CoreBuilder 9000 enterprise switches, which form the network's 622 Mbps OC-12 ATM backbone. Two of the switches are in a data center in Fallsington Elementary School, where the district's administrative offices are based. The other two are in a remote site on the other side of a superhighway, which splits the district. Equipped with dual power supplies and redundant switching engines, the CoreBuilder 9000s have dual OC-12 connections to 32 CoreBuilder 7000HD ATM systems -- two in each building.

The 32 CoreBuilder 7000HD systems form a redundant 155 Mbps OC-3 backbone powering building-wide LANs. Using 7600 interface cards, these high-speed ATM switches deliver Fast Ethernet connections to IBM 330 servers in each building and 650 SuperStack II 3300 switches -- one in every classroom. The stackable SuperStack II 3300s distribute 100 Mbps links to desktop PCs using 3Com Fast EtherLink 10/100 network interface cards. The CoreBuilder 7000 systems also are enabling the district to establish virtual LANs (VLAN) separating administrative from academic applications.

In addition to 3Com hardware, Pennsbury is using 3Com's Transcend(R) Enterprise Manager network management software to control, configure and manage the network from a single management console.

"With 3Com's systems and support, we now have an end-to-end solution that is a learning asset to our schools and our community," DiLorenzo said. "At some point, we even anticipate being able to transmit voice over the MAN, which would cut our phone costs substantially and let us devote more resources to other educational programs. This is the kind of scalability we were hoping to obtain when we acquired the new architecture, and it's precisely what 3Com provided."

About 3Com Corporation

With more than 200 million customers worldwide, 3Com Corporation connects more people to information in more ways than any other networking company. 3Com delivers innovative information access products and network system solutions to large, medium and small enterprises; carriers and network service providers; PC OEMs; and consumers. 3Com. More connected.(TM) For further information, visit 3Com's World Wide Web site at or the press site at

3Com, SuperStack, Fast EtherLink, CoreBuilder and Transcend are registered trademarks and More connected. is a trademark of 3Com Corporation. All other names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jul 2, 1999
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