New fiber-optic network will boost Vermillion’s communication abilities

New fiber-optic network will boost Vermillion's communication abilities By David Lias One 500 mile fiber-optic ring has already been linked together in South Dakota.

And if all goes as planned, South Dakota Network, Inc., will complete a second fiber-optic ring that covers 1,325 miles, linking Vermillion with Sioux Falls and 30 other communities across the state.

The second ring will begin carrying live voice, data and video signals by the end of the year. It runs through Clay, Minnehaha, McCook, Davison, Aurora, Brule, Buffalo, Hyde, Hughes, Stanley, Haakon, Pennington, Fall River, Shannon, Jackson, Todd, Tripp, Gregory, Charles Mix, Bon Homme, Hutchinson, Union, and Woodbury (IA) counties.

The smaller ring, which was activated approximately a month ago, is made up of equipment connected together at various locations in the state. The network operations center is in Sioux Falls; the equipment is located in 15 eastern South Dakota communities, serving some 45,000 business and residential lines.

"Our goal was a network that provides not only secure and reliable communications throughout the state, but also enhances the economic development potential as a result," said Darrell Henderson, president of SDN's board of directors.

He added that SDN and Gov. William Janklow both strongly feel that these fiber-optic networks will play a crucial role in South Dakota's future.

"We feel, as Gov. William Janklow does, that having a strong network infrastructure will improve communications in all areas, including homes, business, government, schools and the medical community," Henderson said.

The network is based on an architecture known as Synchronous Optical Network, or SONET. It is designed for extremely reliable high speed transmission over the fiber-optic cable.

Rich Scott, SDN's chief executive officer, said that providing a full-service network to its customers is a priority at SDN. "We focus on providing one-stop service for our customers regardless of where they need to transport information," he said.

"The need for higher-capacity networks is the result of the overwhelming demand for data services, such as Internet access," Henderson said. "Customers are now looking for a single source for their voice and data needs."

The 14 companies that are involved in the first fiber-optic ring, known as "ring one," with SDN represent the majority of the telephone companies in the state. They are: Beresford Municipal Telephone Company, Fort Randall Telephone, Intrastate Telephone Company, Inc., Interstate Telephone Co-op., Inc., James Valley Cooperative Telephone Company, Jefferson Telephone Company, Golden West Telecommunications Co-op., Inc., McCook Cooperative Telephone Company, Midstate Telephone Company, Sanborn Telephone Cooperative, Sioux Valley Telephone Cooperative, Sully Buttes Telephone Cooperative, Inc., Swiftel and Vivian Telephone Company.

The network can carry digital voice, data and video signals at 2.5 billion bits per second. That means a single hair-thin piece of fiber can carry more than 32,000 simultaneous telephone calls.

"Ring one" of the network physically runs through Minnehaha, McCook, Davison, Beadle, Spink, Brown, Day, Codington, Deuel, and Brookings counties. Neighboring counties will also benefit from the ring because of the connections to their local telephone companies.

Each location on the ring uses SONET-based fiber-optic transmission equipment from Fujitsu Network Communications, Inc. of Richardson, TX. The equipment sends all voice, data, and video traffic in opposite directions over separate fibers for improved network survivability.

If the primary fiber is cut or fails, the backup fiber instantly goes into action, so no telephone calls or data transmissions are interrupted.

"In addition to being the most cost-effective solution," Henderson said, "Fujitsu's SONET equipment offered the smallest footprint on the market and the flexibility for our diverse needs."

The "second ring," which will include Clay County, will also utilize Fujitsu equipment.

"The network's reliability, combined with the potential for added capacity, will help businesses operating in small towns throughout the state to compete with those in New York and other big city centers," Henderson said. "It opens the door to new opportunities for economic growth."

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