Skip to Main Content

California Community Colleges to connect to CENIC network backbone at 10-GBytes/secTo meet increasing demands on campus network capacity, the California Community Colleges (CCC) received $7 million one-time and $5 million in ongoing state funds to upgrade campus network circuits systemwide.

Circuits connecting campuses to the Corporation for Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) backbone will be upgraded, where possible, to 10 Gigabits per second. In locations where this is not currently possible, circuits will be upgraded to the highest throughput available.

Over the coming years, the CCC Technology Center at Butte College will work with CENIC to carry out the upgrade at every district. Many districts fund circuits between their campus locations. Surveys of local intra-district circuits will inform decisions to use CENIC’s aggregate purchasing power to lower costs and centrally pay for these intra-district circuits.

“The challenge is 10 Gig requires an upgrade to routers and firewalls,” explained Michael Tuccillo, Technical Project Analyst for the Technology Center. “It’s a long process.”

A typical installation at a college or district takes about three to four months, according to CENIC. First, the specific needs of colleges have to be assessed. Then the equipment has to be purchased – which can take anywhere from six weeks to two months, alone. Then installation has to be coordinated and completed. “In some cases, we may literally have to build new structures and tear up streets,” Tuccillo said.

10-Times Faster Networks

The upgrade will allow colleges to connect to CENIC’s high-speed research and education network known as CalREN at speeds 10 times faster than they do today – or more, in some cases, as the CCC is still in the process of a 1-Gig upgrade of campus circuits, begun in 2014.

Currently, approximately 25 circuits are in the process of being installed, meaning they have been approved for work and may be in various stages of implementation. Tuccillo noted that this number continually changes as new projects are approved for work and others are finished.

Prioritizing Need

To determine priority for upgrades, the Technology Center conducted a study of network usage at all the colleges, and considered other aspects that can impact network usage, like the number of full-time-equivalent students. Colleges were ranked according to low, moderate, high or critical need.

Using that priority ranking, Tuccillo goes through a discovery process with college network teams to determine the specific technical requirements for a given college. CENIC then steps in to work with vendors and local telcos to coordinate the work being done.

“Activity is starting to heat up,” Tuccillo said of the project. “The summer was spent getting the data ready, and now we’re actually upgrading circuits.”

Crista Souza is the TechEDge News Editor