University Campuses Connected through Optical Infrastructure

Posted: January 3, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Kate Passin

Within the next month, the communication capabilities between George Mason’s three campuses will increase dramatically. By leasing fiber-optic cable from Metromedia Fiber Network, Inc., (MFN), the university will be able to expand the scope of its distance learning programs between the Fairfax, Arlington, and Prince William Campuses. The 10-year agreement with MFN will make Mason the first Virginia university with a point-to-point, private optical network.

There are two main benefits of the private network: increased speed and reliability. “When you purchase bandwidth from a third party provider, you must go through layers and layers of their network switches, and each one of those is a potential point of failure,” says Dave Jensen, Mason’s coordinator of the MFN project and director of Network and Emerging Technologies in University Computing and Information Systems. “The agreement with MFN allows the university to run the network and guarantees us higher bandwidth and, in theory, higher availability.”

MFN is slated to deliver the fiber in early January. Jensen plans to run it for about a month in parallel with the existing system to make sure the new system is stable. The infrastructure will be in full production in early February. “With no bandwidth restrictions between the three campuses, our technology capabilities are endless,” says Jensen. “For example, if a faculty member has a grant that requires real-time video between campuses, we can do it. It’s pretty exciting.”

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