Moving the Internet

Prior to laying the foundation for the Residence, it was realized that a major campus communications duct bank would need to be shifted 22 feet while keeping the internet alive for UCSB! This particular duct bank protects the key fiber optic cables for the CENIC fiber route, a high-speed, high-bandwidth connection running from northern to southern California. Not only is this the main UCSB internet connection, it also connects the UCSB campus with other major research universities.

The conduits are encased in concrete buried five feet underground, so that the start of the process was excavation of more than 100 feet of duct bank, followed by methodical chipping away at the concrete to avoid damaging the conduits or the fiber. The next step was to move the entire group of conduits that contain the active fiber, while crews at other locations would feed the available fiber optic cable slack. All while the internet was live!

“This had never been attempted here at UCSB; nor, to my knowledge, anywhere else,” said Bill Neuner, Engineering Manager & Infrastructure Supervisor for Communications Services-ETS.

At 8:00 am on the morning of November 4, 2014 approximately 20 people representing Tierra Construction, the Towbes Group, UCSB Facilities Management, and ETS Telecommunications huddled around the site to discuss the point-by-point process of moving the structure of conduits. In preparation of the move, Principal Technician Chad Cook from ETS Telecommunications meticulously cut into the conduits exposing the fiber optic cables.

With everyone in place, Bill Neuner gave the countdown to start the move. Using two way radios, the UCSB manhole crews started feeding the fiber towards the site from both sides. Tierra Construction had 10 personnel down in the open pit taking small steps with the conduits/fibers, moving it inches at a time toward El Colegio Road. Forty-five minutes and 22 feet later, the move was completed with no issues or interruption of internet connectivity to the campus.

“This was a very creative effort on the part of the ETS Telecommunication staff and our campus partners that ensured uninterrupted internet connectivity” said Denise Stephens, Interim Chief Information Officer. “Efforts like these are successful when no one notices them. I want to thank Bill Neuner, Chad Cook, John Loman, and the rest of the team for a job very well done.” KITP Director Lars Bildsten agreed: “We never imagined that such a large operation could be achieved so seamlessly!”

- Matt Erickson, ETS Communications & Outreach Manager
KITP Newsletter, Winter 2016