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Looking at fiber's role on campus networks

By Max Burkhalter
July 11, 2013

Campus networks, particularly those connecting users at academic institutions are ready for fiber-optic cabling deployment. College students and professors depend heavily on the internet for a wide range of tasks, and often need a fairly high-performance network that is delivered in a cost-effective way. Historically, the solution has been to establish a fiber-based campus network that uses optical components between buildings and traditional Ethernet infrastructure in facilities. Many things are changing at academic institutions around the United States, leading to shifting network requirements. However, the importance of media converters is fairly consistent. To a great extent, these network shifts are indicative of general connectivity trends in other sectors.

Considering changes in campus networks
There is still a need to connect different buildings on a campus, such as dorms, to a central network that students can access. There is also still plenty of demand for high-performance network infrastructure to support data centers that house institutional IT systems and computing architectures that support advanced research efforts. However, many experts agree that the way students are using the network changes. Not all that long ago students would head to campus with a desktop PC that they plugged in at their desk, but now more people are bringing laptops, smartphones and tablets to college.

Laptops have, of course, been a common tool for years. However, the rise of smartphones and tablets is making Wi-Fi connectivity a major consideration on college campuses.

Evaluating constants in campus networks
Efforts to perform advanced research and support data-rich application functionality in specialized laboratory environments are still essential in academia. This is especially true as many major universities work to deploy supercomputers that promote sophisticated research and allow faculty members to run advanced simulations for teaching purposes.

Dealing with a high volume of network traffic is also still a common theme on campus networks, even though the nature of that traffic has changed to some degree. In particular, the network is increasingly being delivered to a location and being transferred to wireless signal - allowing users on a wide range of devices to access the infrastructure.

This move to wireless functionality on campus networks creates a major problem, as many users will connect, for example, a laptop, smartphone and video game console to the network simultaneously. The network needs to be able to handle this kind of capacity while also supporting advanced research. This is making sophisticated fiber interconnects an essential technology in campus networks, as they provide vital backhaul infrastructure wireless hotspots.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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