During the week of Easter 2008, the district completed one of the largest technical projects in its history: a fiber wide-area-network. Over the past year, each school was interconnected to every other school building via an ultra fast, fiber optic connection provided by Comcast. Prior to the Comcast fiber project, district buildings were tied together by a series of low-speed wireless radios (think towers) and “old-school” copper lines known as T1 circuits. Numerous problems plagued the wireless and T1 links, but in the end, they simply didn’t provide enough bandwidth to support our growing data and connectivity needs.
The fiber wide-area-network project provides four major advantages. First, classrooms finally now have sufficient bandwidth to effectively utilize network-based instructional resources such as streaming educational video and multimedia learning tools. Second, phone call quality for 4-digit building-to-building dialing has increased dramatically. Third, Penn Manor will realize significant efficiencies by centrally locating critical server hardware. Finally, the fiber backbone provides a foundation for advanced instructional projects such as building-to-building virtual video and synchronous online instruction.
The advent of fiber brings also brings a change in complexion for two district buildings. You may have noticed that the wireless towers at Marticville Middle and Letort have been removed. Once both buildings received fiber upgrades, the towers were no longer of use. We do however still maintain two wireless towers (Manor Middle and the High School) for backup data purposes and for future connectivity to Comet Field.