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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 12 | August 9, 2001

Bits, bytes to move faster on campus

Initiative aimed at addressing fundamental need for speedier technological infrastructure

by Don Wells staff writer

Campus Internet users will soon be able to fulfil their need for speed, thanks to the long awaited implementation of the University Networking Program (UNP).

Initiated in 1997 as the Campus Connectivity Project by ITServices and identified as a goal in Trek 2000, the university's vision document, the UNP will deliver state-of-the-art high-speed Internet capability throughout the campus by the end of 2003.

Occupants of the Lasserre Building, one of the first to undergo upgrading and installation of new ports, say that high-speed Internet capability is no longer an option, but a necessity. According to Assoc. Prof. Chris Macdonald, director of the School of Architecture, the ability to transmit large volumes of high-resolution drawings, for example, is a fundamental necessity.

"As a professional school, we have an external examination every five years," says Macdonald. "Quite frankly, if we didn't make this great step forward, I think the program would be put in jeopardy."

School of Community and Regional Planning director Prof. Tony Dorsey adds that increased access and high-speed transmission capabilities are essential to attracting top-calibre faculty.

"I'm waiting to hear a decision from a prospective faculty member who made it very clear that this was one of the prerequisites," he says.

While some buildings on campus already have relatively high-speed service that can rapidly send and receive large data files, others are still using antiquated equipment including, in the most extreme cases, 56 kb dial-up modems.

The network switches -- the active components of the network -- currently being installed in the buildings will be able to move up to 100 Mb per second.

"Completing the UNP is a vital step for the University to fulfil its academic and research mandate," says UNP manager Susan Mair. "It's an enormous and complicated task, but ultimately a vital one if we are to maintain a competitive edge."

By all accounts, the short-term disruption during the course of the upgrading process is insignificant compared to the long-term benefits. Still, Mair is committed to doing everything possible to minimize both disruption and costs.

"We're trying to find synergies with other projects to avoid disrupting occupants more than once," she says.

Implementation of the project officially began last summer after a lengthy planning process and an eight-building pilot project. In total, the UNP will affect 150 buildings and will involve installing 18,000 new and upgraded ports, including 1,500 in affiliated teaching hospitals.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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