Strategic Plan Update: Fiber Optic Cable Upgrade

Fiber optic cable upgrade progressing on campus

Fiber optic cable upgrades on campus are among high priority action items in the Geneseo 2021 Strategic Plan.

Geneseo is continuing to implement the highest priority (Phase I) action items that were identified in the Geneseo 2021 Strategic Plan. Out of a pool of $1 million identified to advance those items, $350,000 was directed to time-sensitive student recruitment efforts. Last September, project leaders in charge of seven other action items shared proposals during a campus forum to secure funding available from the remaining $650,000 fund balance. Based on recommendations from the Budget Priorities Committee, made in consultation with the Strategic Planning Group, President Battles allocated various amounts across all seven action items. In the coming weeks, One College Circle will update each funded area.

Fiber: It Benefits Everyone ($115,000)

Time and technology have a way of making everything that’s new, well, old. Case in point: Geneseo’s fiber cable. Sue Chichester, chief information officer and director for Computing & Information Technology, joined Geneseo in 1984 and remembers when “we were putting fiber cable in the ground.” Then came the mid-90s, when Geneseo completed its first “really big” fiber project on campus, bringing residence halls online to “ResNet.”

Not surprisingly, two decades later, it’s time for an upgrade for those initial efforts. Funding will augment financial resources previously secured  by Chichester’s department  — and help ensure that Geneseo’s IT capabilities keep pace with current and projected campus needs. All told, approximately $400,000 will have been invested in the fiber cable project, which began Jan. 8, 2018.

“Fiber optic cable is generally good for about 20 years, and that’s how this has played out,” Chichester said. “We have better materials and technology today, and the upgrade is essential to campus operations. Fiber cable is the backbone of the entire IT network.”

Fiber cable connects all 45 buildings on Geneseo’s campus and runs within most of them. Without it, there would be no email, telephone communications, Internet browsing, or access to the SUNY Portal, Canvas, and Milne Library databases. Not to mention wireless operations.

According to Chichester, students are the prime benefactors of this project, though academic and miscellaneous areas will also be enhanced.

“The residence halls are the big winner here, from both a learning and living perspective,” she noted. “For students who make our campus their home, the fiber upgrade will offer faster speed and greater convenience to support academic studies and enhance recreational activities. Increasingly, our students use the fiber for entertainment to connect to their own gaming systems, TV network apps and more.”

North, Central, and South Village are completed. The majority of the cable installation is expected to be finished by May, with the entire project done before the start of the fall semester. The only areas excluded are Sturges and Fraser due to renovation plans. However, Chichester cautioned that just because the fiber is in the ground doesn’t mean it is in use since more connections need to be made to electronics over the next few years.  

“Students today want to know that the college they choose has the technology and infrastructure to allow them to capably conduct research, keep in touch with friends and family, and satisfy their social media needs,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management Meaghan Arena. “Internet speed is important to Gen Z.”

That new reality isn’t lost on Chichester.

“We’ve had 21,847 wireless devices on our network since August of last year,” she said. “That generates a lot of traffic — and it’s only going to increase. With new fiber providing over 100 times the capacity of existing cable, this investment prepares us to meet future demands.”

- Tony Hoppa


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