Union's local area networks (LANs) use a switched 10/100MB segmented design with Gigabit Ethernet fiber optic backbones. Ethernet switches from Cisco are used in all schools to segment the network. LAN servers are running Windows 2003 or 2008 Server.
Union is a cross-platform district with both Macintosh and Windows computers. Computers must be running Windows XP, Windows Vista or Macintosh OS 9.1 or higher to be connected to Union’s LAN.
Each classroom has at least 6 network drops run with CAT 5 or better cable. Union’s newest Elementary School, Thomas Jefferson has 10 Gigabit copper cables to all network jack locations. A10 Gigabit copper cable infrastructure is the new standard for LANs at any new construction projects.
The hub for the wide area network (WAN) is a 120-foot tower located near the Transportation Department’s bus depot and the Alternative School, 5656 S. 129th E. Avenue. Microwave antennas on the top of the tower provide point to point links to fourteen schools, one adult education facility, and the administrative offices at the Education Service Center. Grove Elementary school is connected via fiber optic cable to the 6th/7th Grade Center and shares its microwave link. McAuliffe Elementary school does the same with the 8th Grade center. The Alternative Education School is connected via fiber optic cable to the WAN.
Union is on its second generation of microwave radios from Microwave Networks. Each microwave link has two radios each with a DS-3 (45MB) band and a 100MB Ethernet band. The DS-3 band has not been activated but will be as the need arises. In addition to the two radios providing a combined 200MB of bandwidth they provide redundancy. All of the radios were purchased with a 5 year warranty. Installation and warranty service is provided by a local vender, Total Radio. To provide the same bandwidth through leased lines would cost over $800,000 a year. The cost of the upgrade was $1.2 million. Therefore, the system paid for itself within 15 months. All microwave links are licensed by the FCC.
Union has standardized on Cisco’s VoIP phone system with three Call Manger servers in place. Ten of Union’s 19 sites; Boevers Elementary, Briarglen Elementary, Cedar Ridge Elementary, Intermediate High School, Jarman Elementary, Roy Clark Elementary, Rosa Parks Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Elementary, the 8th Grade Center and the Education Service Center have VoIP phones already installed. Over the next five years all sites will migrate to VoIP phones. All phones come with voicemail.
Jarman Elementary School was selected to have a LAN installed as a pilot. Each classroom received six network connections. The media center already had a small LAN with six connections for the Follett library system. Ten additional connections were added to the media center. Jarman has had a dedicated 56KB line for Internet access since 1994 as part of a NSF grant project with Tulsa University. The pilot cabling installation was completed in October of 1997. The Union High School’s LAN was installed in the spring of 1998. LANs were installed in the remaining 13 schools in the fall and winter of 1998 and 1999. The design for each school followed Jarman’s pilot pattern. Two network connections were installed on three walls in each classroom, for a total of six connections. Each connection can be used for data, voice or video. Each elementary media center had at least 10 additional connections installed. Each secondary media center had at least 15 additional connections installed. At least two connections were installed in every school’s offices or work spaces.
In October 1997 a proof of concept microwave project was installed. The high school and Cedar Ridge Elementary were connected to the Education Service Center (ESC). The connections were DS-3 (45MB) point-to-point microwave links running Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Voice, Video, and Data were able to run simultaneously and the project was deemed an unqualified success. In January 1999 a complete WAN connecting all Union schools was completed. Thirteen schools were connected to the WAN via 18Ghz or 23Ghz microwave radios. Three schools are connected to the WAN via fiber optic cable running Gigabit Ethernet. All fiber optic cables are owned by Union Public Schools, no leased lines were used.
In 1998 Microwave Networks was awarded the contract to provide the microwave radios for Union’s first WAN. The contract included installation and a five year warranty. The total cost of the project including the ATM switches was $865,519. In March of 2004 Union upgraded to new Microwave Network radios. Each link was upgraded with two radios in order to increase the bandwidth and redundancy to each school.
The microwave WAN was upgraded in 2004 with new all 23GHz radios. Two radios were installed on each link with a combined bandwidth of 200MB. The radios were designed with direct Ethernet connections. In addition to providing more bandwidth two radios provide for redundancy on each link. If one radio fails on a link the second radio continues.
The 2009 bond issue had funds for the upgrade of two WAN links with new radios in a proof of concept project. The plan is to move away from the 23GHz band and go with only 18GHz radios. The hope is that the new 18GHz radios will be in place by second semester.