Small Tower Speeds Campus Internet

Tower insideThanks to a generous donation by Board of Trustees member Leslie Masson, Crow Canyon has a new communication tower that has sped up Internet service dramatically.

Technology really has improved over the past few years, said Mike Awe, director of information technology. A WISP (wireless Internet service provider) now can serve the "last mile" of Internet connectivity to a consumer via microwave radio signal—without the need to lay either traditional copper or fiber optic cable. The contractor for the improvement was Alan Klein, CEO of AmeriSPOT.

The project was affordable, comparing favorably to the price of a new van.

“This was a quarter the price it would have been using fiber technology,” Awe said, “and the potential is almost unlimited.”

After many years on the backroads far from the “information superhighway,” Crow Canyon now has a radio connection to a very fast Internet backbone, by way of a tower on the hill near the intern cabins. The tower receives the radio signal and shoots it down to the Gates Building, and once it’s fed into the campus Internet system, everyone benefits from improved speed because the bandwidth coming into campus has broadened so much.

“We’ve gone from 6 megabits per second to 100,” Awe explained, and all sorts of possibilities have opened up: two-way live video conferences, interactive distance education programs, data sharing with professionals at other institutions, better access to data stored in the cloud … and, of course, connectivity for young participants far away from home.

“This puts us on the playing field for all sorts of collaborative online, data-intensive projects.”

The initial goal of the project was to correct deficiencies in wireless connectivity for guests.

“If you were in the right spot, you got a weak and intermittent signal,” Awe said. “We didn’t have much hope for bandwidth, but we knew we could improve guest wireless. It turned out the same guy who could help us with wireless was the guy who knew about this new technology.”

 

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