Charter builds technology for schools

Students and teachers in the Hall County School System are noticing something different these days. Hall County Schools have rapid response times when researching on the Internet. Also, teachers now have access to all student records housed at the Board of Education. It all started when 25 school sites were connected by a state-of-the-art, fiber optic network provided by Charter Communications.

Charter’s Wide Area Network (WAN) service provides each Hall County school with data transmission speeds up to 100 million bits per second (Mbps), making the schools among the first in Georgia to offer its teachers and students the advantages of a high-speed data network.

By giving students and teachers the tools to perform more engaging and in-depth research, Charter is helping Hall County Schools improve the quality of education. At the same time, the school system saves money by utilizing centralized servers, which decreases expensive site licenses and improves resource administration.

Perhaps best of all, Charter Cablevision became a partner with Hall County Schools. To pay for the network, Charter Communications assisted the school system in obtaining funds through the Universal Service Fund. The Universal Service Fund is money set aside by the government and funded by the taxpayers to help pay for telecommunication services in public schools.

In January 2000, Dennis Fordham, Superintendent of Hall County Schools had a problem – how to construct a network to meet the needs of the administration, teachers and students AND build a foundation for the needs of tomorrow. At this time, each school had individual, costly and hard to maintain T1 circuits. The T1’s did not provide the bandwidth needed for the advanced services Hall County Schools wanted for its students.

A team of Charter Business Networks Engineers had the solution – a state of the art fiber optic network powered by Cisco Systems. Charter Communications built over 77 miles of additional fiber at a cost of $470,000 as well as provided all the backbone equipment at a cost of $420,000. With Charter Communications absorbing the cost of all equipment, Hall County could use its funds for upgrading computers and internal wiring.

Today, the Hall County School System uses its network for distribution of Internet as well as access to applications and student records. In addition, the infrastructure is now in place to provide distance learning and Voice Services (VoIP) to allow Hall County to further consolidate services and reduce overhead.

Judy Drennen is operations manager for Charter Communications in Gainesville. She has been in the cable industry since 1986.

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