Within UNC-Chapel Hill Information Technology Services’ Communication Technologies group, Transport Operations team members are always on the go.
ITS Transport Operations is responsible for the installation and maintenance of transport cable on campus, which means all those types of lines through which data runs–copper, fiber optics, phones, microwave and even cable TV in the dorms.
Manholes to data closets
At one part of the day, members of the 14-technician team might be climbing down into a muddy, buggy manhole to pull fiber or somewhere on campus hunched over in the ITS splice truck, focused on the delicate and potentially dangerous task of splicing fibers. (Read a related story with a video, which ITS published in April).
During another part of the day–or early morning or late at night, depending upon the urgency–ITS Transport Operations technicians might be in the data closet of an academic building or administrative building or a residence hall. In these cable and wire-laden data closets that the general campus population never sees, the technicians troubleshoot, install, test and repair.
Sometimes live connections go down in the middle of the day. Then the technicians have to work fast because people on campus are held up while the lines are down–the network, computers or phones.
Shooting light through fiber
Other times, like one day during this past spring semester, Transport Operations Manager Chad Ray and Kevin Wicker, Transport Operations Networking Analyst, responded to a not-so-urgent but important call. A mobile provider had requested the installation of three pairs of fiber connecting a new Distributed Antenna System location to the data center at ITS Manning, so the technicians were moving from building to building, testing the network’s attenuation levels.
As part of that task (seen in the video, above), Ray and Wicker needed to troubleshoot at Hinton James dorm, and they found that a couple fibers were suspicious. They shot light through the fiber to test it, and located a splice that was reporting errors. Their solution was to eliminate two connectors that went from Hinton James to ITS Manning via Craige North.
Once that fix was complete, ITS Transport Ops technicians were ready–as always–to roll again.