Billings Public Schools Saves $3 Million with Zhone FiberLAN Deployment

  • Zhone Technologies
OAKLAND, CA — Billings Public Schools' mission is to provide technology that allows students and staff to live, learn and work successfully in an increasingly complex and information rich society. To achieve that, Billings Public Schools in Billings, Montana is upgrading its aging, copper-based technology platform throughout the district's 26 school sites with Zhone Technologies' FiberLAN solution. In total, utilizing FiberLAN helped the school district save approximately $3 million on the update of its broadband network.

In a case study titled "FiberLAN GPON: An Affordable, Reliable Network Solution for Budget-Minded Public Institutions" Larry Bybee, Network Manager at Billings Public Schools, articulates how the FiberLAN GPON solution enabled the school district to upgrade its aging technology platform and provide high-speed Internet bandwidth to all of its elementary school sites.

According to a report by the non-profit group Education Superhighway, 21 million public school students lack the Internet bandwidth they need for digital learning. As a progressive district, Billings Public Schools wanted to ensure that it provides its students with optimal Internet access and developed a five-year plan that included upgrading the technology platform at 22 elementary schools and four middle schools in the district.

GPON Chosen to Replace Copper
"As we started to research the project (with copper), we realized we couldn't upgrade all of the schools because the cost to rewire them all was too great," Bybee said. "Then our technology consultant, Kris Good of CTA Architects Engineers, an integrated architecture and engineering firm, suggested we check out GPON."

CTA Architects Engineers recommended FiberLAN due to the reliability, scalability and cost-effective nature of fiber. Zhone Technologies and CTA Architects Engineers collaborated to create a broadband network that supports the 16,000 staff and students across all its school sites, and provides reliable high-speed data, voice and video services to enable next-generation learning capabilities. Students and staff now have reliable, always-on access to the Internet, ensuring fewer disruptions for the teachers and more time spent educating students.

In addition to the substantial cost savings, there were additional efficiencies realized by reducing troubleshooting trips, which minimized the need for additional staff members. In addition, the district maximized its budget with a rebate from the FCC Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries (E-rate) program.

"Our goal is to maximize technology so we can provide an environment for our students to learn and develop their technology skills," adds Bybee. "With Zhone's affordable solutions, we will continue to offer those high standards across our district." As new technologies emerge, Billings Public Schools has an infrastructure that will allow for growth in the future, essentially "future proofing" the technology for years to come.



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