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Fiber improves service for Outdoor Education Center

During the first quarter of 2018, ITS Communication Technologies connected the Outdoor Education Center to the fiber-based campus VoIP system, improving service and reducing costs.






By installing campus network infrastructure to enable OEC to get off of carrier-provided phone and internet service, ITS CommTech was able to save OEC more than $5,000 per year.

The center is located down the hill and through the woods on Country Club Road. OEC needed more reliable and less expensive phone and internet service. It was using a private carrier’s DSL service for internet connectivity and paying for three connections. The DSL performance was dismal at best, with worsening technical and customer support. Service outages with the legacy phone service are not uncommon, with repair times taking days and in some cases weeks for resolution.

With access to campus fiber, the customer pays no monthly fee and receives UNC-Chapel Hill reliability, support and maintenance, and access to the same quality phone and internet service as is provided to the rest of campus.

Connecting OEC to fiber wasn’t easy. The OEC’s hilly terrain surrounding the office building and clubhouse building was more difficult than the sites at which ITS CommTech staffers typically install fiber, said Chad Ray, Transport Operations Manager with CommTech.

Chad Ray provides a look into one of the new communications boxes at OEC

The biggest issue, however, was that the property had no underground ductbank to tie into. Ductbanks are collections of conduits — often buried and accessed from manholes in streets or from concrete boxes in the soil — through which various types of cables run, including fiber for phones and internet.

What the Outdoor Education Center property does have is the Chancellor’s University-owned house as a neighbor. The Chancellor’s residence through the woods already was on campus fiber. CommTech’s solution was to run duct behind the Chancellor’s residence over to OEC.

In December 2017, horizontal directional drilling equipment bored through the ground, pulling 2-inch pipe as it went along, for 2,500 feet, up and down the hilly terrain. Every 500 feet, workers installed a concrete communications box, from which they could access the orange pipe and pull fiber through.

In the first part of 2018, CommTech ran fiber from the closest of those new communications boxes and installed a network switch and other equipment to complete the job of hooking up OEC buildings to the campus VoIP system. Then CommTech installed copper data cabling in the buildings for the connections and the wireless access points.

In addition to wanting to address the Outdoor Education Center’s inadequate phone and internet service, this project also was driven by the University’s migration to VoIP from the legacy AT&T Centrex phone system.

CommTech officially finished moving the University’s phone system over to VoIP in fiscal 2016-2017, but some clean-up work continues.

Key Partner(s): Department of Exercise and Sport Science
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