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CSD transitions to new fiber optic network

On October 3, City Schools of Decatur fully transitioned to the fiber optic network jointly built with the City of Decatur. The new network, with an expected 20-year lifespan, provides built-in resilience not previously available, will lower operating costs, and eases CSD’s implementation of future network enhancements.


The fiber network connects all CSD schools and the Facilities & Maintenance office to the district’s network core in the Elizabeth Wilson School Support Center, which in turn provides the district’s internet connection. 


CSD's CIO, Eston Melton, talks about the benefits of this connection. "Thanks to a lot of hard work by school and municipal staff, it's thrilling to pivot from a leased fiber system to a less expensive and more robust long-term solution. We'll still use this system even after my first-grader graduates from Decatur High School," said Melton. 


CSD tripled its internet bandwidth over the last year from 900 megabits per second to 3 gigabits per second (gb/s), and each building in the fiber network has a 1 gb/s connection to the Wilson Center. The district plans to increase internet bandwidth to 6 gb/s in the coming years, and the new fiber network affords CSD greater flexibility to increase individual schools’ connection rates to take advantage of that additional bandwidth – or even greater increases in the future.


The fiber project began in 2018, when then-Assistant City Manager Andrea Arnold invited CSD to participate in creating a system to serve municipal and school locations. The fiber optic lines that connect CSD’s buildings are physically separate from the city’s fiber optic lines, and the two entities’ data are kept entirely separate. Network Cabling Infrastructures Inc.’s network design and construction involved 62,850 feet of underground boring and fiber placement over 335 days. Network construction ended in June, but equipment supply chain limitations delayed CSD’s transition to the new network by several months. Network Services Coordinator Jason Wade shepharded CSD’s participation in the project from inception to completion.


CSD paid for its portion of the network construction with SPLOST V funds. The City of Decatur owns the network, and CSD’s use of the system is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding.


CSD used the federal E-Rate program to select Education Networks of America (ENA) to provide hardware and monitoring services to support CSD’s implementation of the new network. ENA leased the previous fiber network to CSD.