Adams 12 nears 132-mile-long fiber optic network

District will use connectivity for learning, security and system controls

Liam Adams
ladams@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/1/21

A new district-wide fiber-optic network will help usher Adams 12 Five Star Schools into a new technological era. The 132-miles of cables reach every district building and will allow Adams 12 to speed …

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Adams 12 nears 132-mile-long fiber optic network

District will use connectivity for learning, security and system controls

Posted

A new district-wide fiber-optic network will help usher Adams 12 Five Star Schools into a new technological era.

The 132-miles of cables reach every district building and will allow Adams 12 to speed up internet traffic, control security and temperature systems, and adapt to advancements in learning technologies. It’s a project that commenced construction in 2018, but the district hopes will last for decades to come.

“Having the autonomy to really make sure that we are protecting our connectivity, our ability to educate the community, to be there as an anchor resource for so many community services, it’s a thrill to be able to support that kind of work and to know we’re making such a difference in so many peoples’ lives,” said Erik Moore, executive director of academic computing services.

Adams 12 staff have been contemplating the project for eight years. The district has been leasing fiber-optic cables from Comcast to connect district schools to the administrative ESC building. That network is much smaller, has fewer capabilities and the lease agreement for it will expire this August. The district knew years ago it needed a new system by 2021.

Then, in 2016, voters passed a $350 million bond issue to fund various district projects. When that happened, Adams 12 decided, “that building our own fiber (network) was the most cost-effective solution,” said Perry Movick, manager of infrastructure engineering for Adams 12. Construction began soon after.

Parts of the network, like the fiber cables themselves, will last long. Other components – such as the transceivers that transmit and receive the data – will need to be replaced every eight to 10 years. Sometimes, the district will need to replace a transceiver to accommodate more advanced learning technologies, such as ones that use virtual reality, for example. The relative ease of upkeep should allow the system to be in just as good shape 50-plus years from now, Moore said.

Starting this year, the district will use the system to run Wi-Fi through buildings, regulate the temperature of buildings, control security systems and cameras, and monitor coolers used by food services.

Also, in the future, the enhanced internet usage capabilities will allow students to tap into new learning resources, like Front Range GigaPop. Another goal is to reduce latency in video chats, which could benefit a band rehearsing over Zoom.

The district is also taking steps to upgrade its Wi-Fi infrastracture, like the modems themselves, but it needed the new fiber-optic network in place first because it expands the district’s bandwidth, or its ability to process internet traffic.

Though the network enables the district to use new toys, it will help Adams 12 do what it already has been, just better. “It gives us a greater resilience in the classroom,” Moore said.

Right now, Moore and Movick are focused on getting the system online. After that, the possibilities are endless. Movick said, “To build something that is going to be useful for decades to come, it’s satisfying and it’s exciting.”

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