Uni eases learning with $1m net upgrade

Southern Cross University (SCU) in Northern NSW is about to embark on a $1 million network upgrade project which will be the centrepiece of a new learning environment for students.

Professor Jim Hann, executive director of information services at SCU, said the new network, from Nortel Networks, is key to the university's future strategic focus.

The network is designed to overcome networking management and performance problems as well as provide the bandwidth required to carry online traffic including videoconferencing and video streaming.

"There's been an extensive planning exercise in the university to make sure when we spend the money we spend it with the best results," Hann said.

"We were very keen to identify what were the business issues for the new network, rather than just rushing in and buying new equipment to fix the problems that we were aware of."

Following a tender process last year, SCU selected an integrated telephony, video and data network using products from Nortel Networks and V-Tel.

Contractor, NetStar, a division of Anixter, has signed a three-year, multimillion dollar agreement for the supply of network equipment and services.

It is envisaged the new network will improve network management systems, improve connections to some buildings, ensure compatibility and offer improved security.

According to Hann, the bulk of the network upgrade will occur at the university's main campus in Lismore, but it is expected the services it will provide, including videoconferencing and improved security, will apply across the other campuses in Tweed Heads, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour. Hann said the upgrade, part of a three-way initiative to bring SCU online, is expected to be completed in around three to four months.

In addition to the network upgrade, SCU is upgrading its Web site and building a new wide area network to connect its distributed campuses.

"We intend to end up with a situation where a student can make course enquiries through our Web site, they'll enrol through our Web site, pay their fees through the Web site . . . and get their education through the Web site," Hann said.

Hann said SCU intends to put out a tender for the WAN project in the next couple of weeks.

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