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fiber network
Posted in on May 31, 2024

Fiber network funded by the 2019 bond

It’s one of those things that has a big impact without you even noticing. In fact, if you don’t read this article, you’ll probably never know about it. But if you’re a student, teacher or staff member in the Arlington ISD, it’s quietly a big deal.

Earlier this year, Arlington ISD completed its own private fiber network. The project, funded by the 2019 Bond, required about two years to install over 85,000 feet of fiber. But now it’s all completely installed and connected to every campus.

So, what does that mean?

In a nutshell, that means better internet for every student, teacher and staff member.

It means ensuring students and teachers have access to all the online resources, learning materials and teaching tools that go into a 21st-century education. It’s also about ensuring the demand for internet – which is growing all the time – is met now and for decades to come. And it’s about speed, stability and dependability – creating internet infrastructure designed to eliminate internet outages and guarantee smooth, uninterrupted access.

All of those internet needs are accomplished with the new private fiber network, which utilizes a multi-ring, clover-shaped topology. That means rings of underground fiber – wire made out of pure glass that acts as the highway that internet data travels on in the form of light – was installed underground to encircle the entire school district and connect to every school.

This bidirectional ring allows data to flow both ways and includes significant resiliency. Fiber enters each school in two locations to ensure reliability even further. So, if there is an issue with the fiber at one entry, the second can be used.

In addition to reliability, the fiber network gives the district 10 times the bandwidth it previously had. Plus, with full control over the network, the district can implement increases to capacity whenever necessary and can do so by simply adding additional hardware. That means increasing capacity won’t require a network redesign, as was often the case when the district had to rely on outside vendors to provide internet services. In other words, this new fiber network infrastructure is a foundation built to support capacity needs well into the future.

Another critical advantage of the private network will be the lack of congestion and therefore the ability to host WAN services such as multicast. No one else will have access to this network, so the only traffic will be from district users. With no other traffic to contend with and complete control over the network, it’s full speed ahead.

Now that Arlington ISD owns its own network, it no longer has to rely on leasing WAN connectivity services from outside vendors. And that’s a big cost savings.

“Long term, this will give Arlington ISD a significant cost savings,” said Arlington ISD assistant superintendent of technology Dr. Eric Upchurch. “We’ll stabilize the cost of our bandwidth for the next 25 years at the same time eliminating most of our commercial WAN service costs.”

Already, the district expects to save $300,00 a year by eliminating WAN services.

Learn more about all the projects in the 2019 Bond.