Cabling & Construction

Posted on: August 11, 2017

Our team consists of over 300 individuals performing a variety of tasks in support of the ITS and greater university mission.  With a group as large as ours, there are more than a few behind the scenes activities required to keep our enterprise functioning.  So, this week I want to share some work of one of the “behind the scenes” teams.

Cabling and Construction (C&C), part of Networking and Telecommunications, is responsible for the university’s telecommunications cabling, pathways, and spaces. Cable is what interconnects all of the wireless network on campus. As you might expect from the abundant amount of construction on campus, C&C has had a busy year.

The Inside Plant, responsible for cabling within the 40 acres, has placed more than 360,000 feet (68 miles) of new Cat5e and Cat6a cables. Cat5e and Cat6a cables are top-of-the-line cables that support streamlined connections with minimal crosstalk and super-fast connection speeds. Beyond cabling, the Inside Plant has installed more than 1,242 wireless access points within university buildings so far this year. These additional access points will allow for increased connectivity in buildings. In addition to new access points, they are just over halfway to swapping out 1,400 older access point models across campus as part of a lifecycle refresh project. They are also working to install about 300 wireless access points in the new Engineering Education and Research building. You may bump into them replacing one of our fleet of over 7,600 access points. All of these access points help to connect the nearly 100,000 devices (more than two per person) that connect to the campus wireless network each day.  Great job team, and special thanks to Sean Lynch, Brett Wilson, Conrad Sanchez, and Julius Montgomery.

The Outside Plant, responsible for cabling beyond the 40 acres, has placed more than 43 miles of fiber and copper cable across the main and Pickle Research campuses this year. A couple of their larger projects included 624 fibers placed to add T-Mobile to the cellular Distributed Antenna System (which required over 2,500 fiber splices), and 7,152 fibers (nearly 29,000 fiber splices) supporting the new primary Network Operations Center under construction. (This one will go on for several more years.) They also put the finishing touches on 22 data closets for new construction and remodels from the new Health Discovery Building to leased office spaces. This new cabling will support the copious amounts of data acquisition and processing the researchers on our Pickle Research Campus require.  Awesome work team, and special thanks to Ben Pollard and Jeffrey Gonzalez.

That’s a lot of work. If laid out flat, the amount of cabling laid this summer would stretch from Austin to Johnson City and back. Sixty percent of that work in a typical year is performed by contractors supervised by C&C. Those contractors enable us to expand and contract quickly and cost-effectively to meet the university’s needs while maintaining the high standards and compliance our customers demand. Working alone and with contractors, C&C helps to build the connections that make research and connected teaching and learning happen on our campus. Just a great example of the effort it takes to keep us connected!