Box Hill network hits global speed

Box Hill Institute of Tafe is sharpening its online learning strategy, recently becoming what is believed to be Australia's first tertiary institution equipped with a Gigabit Ethernet backbone.

The Victorian institute's Gigabit Ethernet commitment is also paving the way for trials of IP telephony and IP-based television services this year.

Richard Constantine, Box Hill's general manager information technology services, said the project aims to bring Gigabit Ethernet to every desktop on the remaining six campuses over the next three years.

The institute conducted the network upgrade of its Nelson campus during November and December 1998, rolling out 1000 ports to more than 1000 users on the campus.

"Our minimum standard is 10/100Mbps to the desktop," Constantine said.

The Nelson campus conducts the institute's information technology and electronics courses.

Box Hill is using the Cisco series 5500 chassis and a mix of catalyst 5000, 2900 and 3000 routers.

The institute's core router is a Cisco Catalyst 7200.

Constantine said Box Hill decided to extend its existing relationship with Cisco because its technology offered the functionality he required and it was all immediately available, unlike other vendors.

Box Hill is also reaping the benefits of heavy educational discounting. This latest upgrade cost $300,000, while Constantine estimates the total investment in the network infrastructure over the last two years is more than $1 million.

"The equipment is heavily discounted for education [institutions]," he said. "That impresses me. [Cisco] was aggressive with this one."

The network is supporting the institute's status as the "trainer of trainers". Constantine said Box Hill has a dual role as Cisco Registered Academy and Cisco Academy Training Centre for Australia and New Zealand. In the future, he said, the move to IP telephony will simplify the management of the institute's telecommunications infrastructure.

Not only can any phone or computer device use the same port, Constantine said, his staff can run PABX software on an NT server to eliminate the need for outside help.

He believes the future use of IP television will allow students and staff to view video on demand from anywhere on the network.

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