ATM network sets stage for multimedia applications

The Air Force late last month unveiled a new Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) network at Charleston Air Force Base S.C. that officials said will position users there to exploit multimedia applications in the future. Master Sgt. Ted Crincoli said the base began installing Cisco Systems Inc. Lightscreen 1010 ATM switches last April and has now successfully moved 91 of the 108 buildings on the base from Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) to an ATM backbone capable of running at speeds of up to 155 megabits/sec. He said the switches will not replace the base's Cisco 7000 routers which he said will be maintained as gateways between local-area networks. Crincoli said the installation and engineering of the network was performed by Cisco under a $2.6 million task order awarded by the General Services Administration's Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (Fedsim). Cisco performed the outside plant work installed network equipment and provided training. Integrator Hyperion Inc. performed much of the hardware installation and internal wiring. "Fedsim was able to do a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get us the best price " Crincoli said. "The level of customer service was second to none." FDDI No Longer Measures Up Master Sgt. Scott Sniegowski chief of network services on the project said the base's FDDI network was no longer able to accommodate its bandwidth requirements. "We had maxed out the number of ports on our FDDI so we couldn't put any more buildings on the network " he said. "We were able to do that with this upgrade." Michael Vivenzio a systems engineer at Cisco said base personnel view the network as an investment noting that it could be easily upgraded to 622 megabits/sec. by simply replacing switch cards. "They are looking toward the future to take advantage of what ATM can offer such as putting video and eventually voice traffic on the backbone " he said. "Their network is primarily data so we didn't think that 622 megabits was a requirement." Sniegowski said the base migrated "building by building " with only about 10 minutes of downtime required for each switchover. "There was a lot of pre-planning " Sniegowski said. "Each morning we looked at different buildings and took their fiber connections from the old system to the new one. We completed 63 buildings in the initial thrust." Sniegowski said the Air Force's schedule for completing the transition of the remaining buildings "will depend on money" and on how quickly the buildings obtain equipment to accommodate ATM transmission.

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