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ITS installs fiber for Athletics for sports network


ITS installed a couple miles of fiber on campus that enabled the Athletics department to provide live video and data for the ACC Digital Network that ESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference launched in 2019.

“No one will be on this fiber but Athletics,” Chad Ray, ITS Communication Technologies’ Transport Operations Manager, said before the work was finished.

worker installs fiber while it is dark outside
Workers install fiber in the early morning

Athletics buys fiber for network

This is the first project in which ITS has installed an entire fiber backbone for use solely by one campus entity. When ITS lays additional fiber, its customer is usually the University for fiber that the entire campus will use. For this sports network project, Athletics is ITS’ customer. Athletics bought the fiber. ITS has installed it and will maintain the fiber for Athletics. For more than a decade, Athletics has leased fiber from ITS for video production.

Athletics needs 48 strands of single-mode, long-haul fiber between the Dean Smith Center and Carmichael Arena and spur cables to the athletic venues.

Athletics will transmit 200+ events a year

Athletics will transmit more than 200 athletic events per year from the sports venues to the production studios and main hubs at the Smith Center and Carmichael and then on to the ACC DN linear channel that the ACC and ESPN are launching.

There were only two pairs of fiber to each arena. Considering Athletics would have to share that fiber capacity with all of the University’s networking needs and for the Distributed Antenna System, those two pairs were not sufficient.

ladder descends into hole in ground
Most of the fiber runs underground in manhole systems between buildings

In addition, video needs to have a lot fewer splices and bends in the fiber than data requires. Remember, light is shooting through these fiber-optic lines. Like a flashlight, the farther away it is, the dimmer it gets. Attenuation, the amount of signal or power lost from one end to another, depends on the equipment. To work properly, video needs to have lower attenuation. To limit the amount of attenuation for this project, Transport Operations had to pull longer runs of fiber, Ray said.

Project may have second phase

In the first phase of this project for Athletics, Transport Operations began installing fiber to link the Smith Center, Carmichael, the football and baseball stadiums, and planned indoor and outdoor facilities for football, soccer and lacrosse.

Additional fiber could be installed in a possible second phase at the University’s outlying athletic venues for golf, tennis and softball.


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