When you look at the recent relocation and renovation project at Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB), you realize public broadcasting is not what it used to be. In August 1997, the broadcaster moved to its new headquarters in Atlanta. This innovative media center houses one of the first digital public television stations in the country.

GPB increased floor space from 40,000 sq ft to 227,000 sq ft, grew from two to nine television studios, and added three primary television studios equipped with digital cameras and six distance learning studios with camera robotics. To support its high-tech needs, it required a cabling infrastructure to support the new technologies with room to grow.

The network includes data, voice, and video—all based on a fiber-to-the-desktop system. The manufacturer designed this fiber cabling infrastructure based on the Centralized Network Administration (CNA) strategy. This strategy consolidates LAN electronics into a single communications center and takes full advantage of the high reliability and longer data transmission distances afforded by fiber-optic technology. The GPB CNA system includes ATM 155 Mbps to each of nearly 150 desktops and more than 90,000 ft of fiber-optic cable.

The GPB Information Technology Group supports nearly 200 network users and 500 telephone outlets with a staff of only three. Nearly 600 multimode fiber terminations provide a solid foundation for GPB’s growing business requirements.

Each desktop connects to the central data center via a duplex multimode fiber. By providing home run connectivity for network devices, GBP saves in many areas, including reduced installation cost, ease of fault isolation, simplified or centralized user configuration, decreased long-term maintenance cost, and reduced staffing.

Although copper is less costly than a fiber system, fiber provides greater bandwidth, product simplicity, increased ability to install longer home runs in the use of a collapsed backbone, and overall greater return-on-investment (ROI). All multimode fiber cables run directly from the GPB level four data center through the IDF closet and then to more than 600 locations throughout the facility. Each data outlet contains one multimode fiber and one four-pair Cat. 3 copper connection. In locations requiring network printers or multiple workstations, the company added more runs of multimode fiber, totaling approximately 80 locations. In the IDF closet, all copper four-pair station runs are fully cross-connected to the 300 pair risers.

The data center on the third floor houses the file servers, Mitel telephone PBX, LAN administrator, and information technology helpdesk. All multimode fiber is terminated on fiber patch panels. Labels at both ends of the fiber simplify patching and configuration for the administration staff.

GPB provides applications to network users from the Novel server farm. They can log into any workstation in the building and receive the requested information almost instantaneously. The staff installed software on the network server.

GPB expects to achieve its ROI in three years and projects the total cost (cable plant, network electronics, network operating costs per year, staff costs per year and the desktop PCs) at $2100 per user with 200 current users.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in user productivity due to the deployment of ATM and our fiber-based system,” noted Bill Burson, Assistant Director of Information Technology for GPB. “Users spend less time moving in and out of applications and logging into and out of the network, saving each of our 200 employees as much as 30 min less time per week for our 200 employees, equaling 5200 hr of productivity improvement annually.”