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Trunked Fiber Renovation Project Summary

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UCSB has a fiber optic cable plant (fiber plant), which provides the fundamental physical interconnects for the campus data network, which is necessary for intra-campus and Internet computer connectivity. Increasing standardization on Internet protocols for device connectivity has expanded the use of the data network from typical email and web browsing to include interdisciplinary and inter-institution research collaboration and data exchanges. The network also supports basic building management systems, including HVAC, fire alarms, irrigation controls, door access controls, and security cameras. Briefly stated, the fiber optic cable plant is necessary to the operation of the campus data network, which in turn supports the campus mission in a multitude of ways, ranging from facilities management to competitive advantages in grant applications.

Campus fiber plant construction began in 1986 and has grown organically since the first cable installation, providing substantial value to all aspects of daily campus business activities. Unfortunately, at this point the composition and basic design of the fiber plant are insufficient to meet current and future needs, including growth in network deployments at speeds of 10-gigabits/second (10Gbs) and beyond. Specific technical deficiencies include inconsistent fiber types, insufficient quantities of singlemode (high-speed) fiber, variable termination quality, and excessive path loss. Operational problems include absence of maintenance, repair, and infrastructure renewal funding, lack of a recovery mechanism for unused fiber, limited management of crowded underground communications duct routes, inefficient core networking deployments, higher costs for link provisioning, and irregular documentation and testing practices.

The Trunked Fiber Renovation (TFR) project will correct the above issues through a substantial replacement of the fiber plant, accompanied by clearly defined operating procedures and periodic audits. Incremental upgrades based on the existing infrastructure were considered, but the scope would be sufficiently comprehensive that a replacement strategy is more appropriate. TFR will incorporate a new topology, current best-practice materials and installation techniques, and accommodations for future upgrades. The project will cover the main campus, with accommodations to support gradual expansion across Housing and other facilities between Stadium Road and Storke Road, ultimately incorporating West Campus.

TFR includes establishment of two on-campus fiber distribution points (FDPs), named Blue and Gold. At least four high-capacity trunk fiber cables will traverse separate routes across the campus between Blue and Gold. Each trunk cable will consist of 864-strand singlemode ribbon fiber. Each cable will be broken out at various points so a subset of the cable may connect adjacent buildings. Each building will thus have fiber to both Blue and Gold, providing some protection against fiber cuts and equipment failures. The primary purpose of the FDP locations is to serve as the end points of the trunked fiber, with generator-backed power and air conditioning to support a limited quantity of networking equipment for core routing and off-campus connectivity. A third FDP would likely be deployed at West Campus as that property undergoes development.

Implementation of TFR requires selection, design, and construction of the FDP locations, installation of ducts to connect the FDPs to the underground duct system, audits of manholes to determine utilization of existing duct routes, migration of active services and removal of obsolete cables to clear routes, installation of new innerduct and cabling, and planned outages to migrate individual buildings to the new infrastructure.

Project costs are estimated at between $2.5-$5.0M. Actual costs depend on a variety of factors, including the contracting process (e.g. Job Order Contract) and the as-yet-unknown extent to which existing services must be re-routed and cables pulled to clear duct space. As an example, initial evaluation of the duct routes along Stadium Road indicate duct clearing activities will likely cost between $80-$100K.