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Columbia College Chicago Boosts Network with Dark Fiber

Columbia College Chicago, a private arts and media college with 12,000 students, has upgraded its network to tap into dark fiber maintained by Sidera Networks. Dark fiber is high-speed fiber optic network infrastructure that's in place but not being used. The college chose Sidera based on a recommendation from service provider CDW-G.

Columbia began the hunt for a data communications upgrade to address the limited capacity of its network.

"The majority of our academic programs are digital in nature, and students need to be able to access and move large files over the network," noted CIO and Associate Vice President Bernadette McMahon. Previously, students had to walk large audio and media files between classes, she said. "With dark fiber, students can move and access their course files with a click of a mouse from any building on campus."

She added that the college expects to recoup its infrastructure investment within three years, and it will reinvest those savings in new classroom technology. The higher capacity network, which is dedicated to the college and will be completed this winter, will connect 15 buildings. Built in a ring topology with independent connections between buildings, the network will reroute data if one section is cut or fails, according to Sidera in a statement.

"Dark fiber will change our connectivity and infrastructure for the better, providing a truly digital environment that our media arts students expect," McMahon said. "We wanted to implement dark fiber for a long time, and CDW-G and Sidera Networks helped us select the best solution for our needs and at a price point in line with our budget."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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