Fiber optic cables installed into BSM wireless internet

With+the+new+fiber+optic+cables%2C+the+internet+provider+has+more+bandwith+to+sustain+more+activity%2C+which+allows+for+teachers+to+do+more+interactive+lessons+that+the+whole+class+can+participate+in.

Amira Carter

With the new fiber optic cables, the internet provider has more bandwith to sustain more activity, which allows for teachers to do more interactive lessons that the whole class can participate in.

Almost anyone who regularly connects to the BSM Wi-Fi has  experienced loss of connection, severe lag, or an inaccessibility to online polls. These symptoms are direct results of a dated internet system accommodating newer applications. To fix these problems, BSM updated the system with new fiber optic cables Friday, September 16, to increase the bandwidth of the school’s Wi-Fi.

Before the update, BSM used a link balancer, which combined four internet tubes. This allowed the older technology to handle the demands of over a thousand student and faculty laptops, but using four different tubes resulted in daily inconveniences for many BSM Wi-Fi users. “As you’re using your internet, [you jump] between the tubes every four minutes. When you jump from one Comcast point to another, you are losing your login, so students aren’t staying logged in as long as they should,” help desk provider Mr. Bill Cheney said.

We’re going to be covered at least the next three to five years before we have to think about what’s coming next.”

— Bill Cheney

The fiber optics will only use one tube, so users can be connected with a single IP address, and they won’t not get kicked out of websites as the system rotates between the tubes. “This will hopefully solidify it so then you have one constant address and you’re constantly logged in without the internet booting you off since we’re using an old system,” Cheney said.

Another issue with the old provider was that student activity pushed the bandwidth to the limit. Some days, so many students were watching videos and taking tests online that BSM came close to hitting its cap for internet usage. The new system provides solves this problem by providing increased bandwidth.

Switching to fiber optic cables also significantly decreases the amount of hardware in the help desk, making the new internet system much easier to manage.

We’re going to be able to use services like Self Service and run updates over the web, so hopefully next summer we won’t have kids bringing their laptops in for summer upgrades; you could just do it over your Wi-Fi at home,” Cheney said.

To implement the fiber optics, Universal Services, a contractor under Comcast, dug a tunnel underneath the Beth El Synagogue across the street and ran the fiber optic cables through it. This was a long process that required approval from the city of St. Louis Park. “We were hoping to have it done over the summer, but the city is so busy with all the other construction going on that they got to us when they got to us,” Cheney said.

During the implementation, the help desk was careful to ensure that there was a backup in case there were problems when initially switching to the fiber optics. “If we saw any issues, we’d still have the option to turn the other internet lines back on, so there should be no halt in service during school here,” Cheney said.

It will be nice to have a consistent provider, and over the long haul it’s going to be great for the school. We’re going to be able to do a lot more things online.”

— Bill Cheney

When the school first switched to the fiber optics on Friday, September 16, there was a brief period of downtime that occurred from 1:25 to 1:30 in the afternoon, which most students heard about in an announcement. The transition didn’t have any issues, and BSM is now running on the new system.

Now that the new system is in place, the Help Desk doesn’t plan on worrying about another update anytime soon. “We’re going to be covered at least the next three to five years before we have to think about what’s coming next,” Cheney said.

Overall, these changes will improve the school and allow for easier integration of technology in the classroom. “I’m excited for the new system. It will be nice to have a consistent provider, and over the long haul it’s going to be great for the school. We’re going to be able to do a lot more things online,” Cheney said.