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Southwest University Builds Cloud Education Network

By Li Wentao, Access Network Product Manager, Chongqing Enterprise Business Department, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

Southwest University, with an enrollment of 50,000 students, is part of the ‘985 Project’ to promote the development of world-class universities in China. With 80 dormitories and 48 classroom buildings, the university chose to deploy a cloud-based education network so that students could learn from anywhere on campus.

Southwest University needed an open, high-performance network, as the legacy network no longer met the minimum service requirements: 1) Access switches, deployed in weak-current rooms, had high fault rates due to unstable temperatures, humidity, and heavy dust. Failure of even one switch would affect network access for multiple classrooms. 2) Classroom buildings are distributed unevenly, and the IT maintenance staff has limited manpower. 3) The old network required a large amount of cabling, and the subfloors and ceilings had no additional space for new conduits.

Huawei provided Southwest University with the secure and efficient AgilePOL solution, or Passive Optical Local Area Network (POL), including End-to-End (E2E) services to cover all phases of deployment. Southwest University is the first location in China where the POL solution has been applied in the educational market. Compared with traditional solutions, this new solution has the following advantages:

  • On-demand bandwidth improves user experiences: Terminating optical fibers in dormitories and classrooms reduces E2E latency to less than 30 ms. Wired and wireless networks permit users to roam seamlessly, and wireless Access Points (APs) for location positioning allow new experiences for both teachers and students.
  • POL networks are built using Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technologies. Users connect to PON ports flexibly assigned to meet different bandwidth and service priorities. For example, Wi-Fi hotspots or videoconferencing rooms can be provisioned with higher bandwidths than dormitories. Bandwidth can be adjusted using the Network Management System (NMS) in real time without the need to change hardware.

  • All-optical network enhances network reliability: AgilePOL networks use passive fiber technologies with few active devices that reduce the number of points of failure. POL networks are resistant to electromagnetic interference, and therefore are more reliable.
  • Easy deployment fulfills different scenario requirements: Different types of Optical Network Units (ONUs) are used depending on the scenario. In dormitories, ONUs may be mounted on the ceiling; or in classrooms, they may be mounted to blackboards to reduce cabling costs. Optical cables are installed quickly using fusion splicing. Low-power optical splitters are deployed in weak-current rooms using simple cabling, while Optical Line Terminals (OLTs) are installed in central offices for remote ONU data configuration — meaning that only one OLT need be deployed for network management.
  • One multiple services network supports future expansion: Legacy solutions carried different services over separate cable networks. For example, 5 cables would need to be routed for a dormitory (4 for Local Area Network (LAN) ports and 1 for an AP), and 7 cables were required for a single classroom (3 for LAN ports, 1 for IP broadcast, 2 for IP cameras, and 1 for an AP). Technicians used to have to deploy thousands of cables, cable ladders, distributed power supplies, and air conditioning infrastructure to support each installation.
  • POL solutions reduce the workload to completion by about 40 percent. Moreover, POL solutions support uniform management and device scheduling across the entire network to improve maintenance efficiency.

  • Line encryption protects data security: Cloud-based platforms must handle a wide variety of data security and privacy issues. RJ45 ports are vulnerable because anybody can access an open network port. Instead, POL networks use Ultra Physical Contact (UPC) optical ports, which make it more difficult for intruders to hijack the network. Further, GPON supports real-time 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) ONU authentication. With these security measures in place, it is nearly impossible to intercept data from the POL network.
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