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||Contact: Carmen Rahm, Director - Information
Technology/Chief Technology Officer 208/792-2215
IT COMPLETES ANOTHER STEP IN
LEWISTON - Lewis-Clark State's Information Technology (IT) Department recently
completed another project designed to increase the overall performance and reliability of
Lewis-Clark State College's Local Area Network (LAN).
Following several months of planning, Jon Sittner and Gavin Budd of IT's Networks and User
Services Division, spent the last five weeks upgrading building equipment from the older
hub technology, to newer, more efficient switches. "This upgrade increases the
bandwidth available to each user by a factor of ten, and dedicates this bandwidth to them
instead of sharing it as in the past," Budd said.
So what does this really mean for the computer user on campus? Over the past couple years;
the college's IT and Physical Plant Departments have worked hard to upgrade the networking
between all buildings and the Network Operating Center (NOC) located in Sam Glenn Complex.
Fiber optic cable, capable of much higher bandwidths, was installed throughout the
campus-including buildings without current network connections, like the dorms.
"Upgrading the external network was a major step in assuring that we'll be able to
meet our customers' needs in the future," commented Jerry Hindberg, Manager of
Network and User Services.
The latest action, which Budd and Sittner were involved in, included replacing electronic
components between the external network and the cable plant located within the buildings.
"The new switches allow users to take advantage of the increased bandwidth available,
especially during times of network congestion", explained Carmen Rahm, Chief
Technology Officer & Director of IT. "It's like widening a two-lane highway you
previously had to share with your neighbors to a 20 lane highway that you have all to
yourself." He continued with the highway analogy: "The maximum speed is still
only 60mph-or 186,000 miles per second for data-but when there are a lot of users, or when
you're moving large files, the backups and traffic jams should be significantly
Those "traffic jams" are what cause the slowdowns that frustrate users. Campus
users will still share the external network; however, the bandwidth there is significantly
higher and is rarely a point of congestion.
So what's next for the network at LCSC? The higher speed doesn't help much if connections
to the network aren't where they're needed. Expanding the network, along with access to
it, is the next phase of improving service to campus end-users. A large network cabling
expansion/upgrade project is currently being planned. The project is funded by a
technology upgrade grant. IT staff will be working with Physical Plant personnel to expand
the network throughout the campus and replace older wiring in some buildings.
Plans include increasing the number of network ports in key locations such as classrooms
and some offices; providing Internet access from the dorms where there is currently no
network access; possibly implementing wireless access in community locations like the SUB,
the Library, and the Centennial Mall area.
All parties involved in the project are carefully identifying priorities, in order to
accomplish as much as possible within the set budget. Rahm hopes to see the project go out
for bids in early 2002.