The Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC) was created to lead technology-focused cooperation between 21 Balboa Park institutions. One of the challenges BPOC quickly uncovered when it began was the serious limitation to supporting collaboration caused by the lack of IT infrastructure connecting the institutions to the internet. The park was serviced by AT&T and a result, BPOC installed the infrastructure necessary for a high speed (1GB/second) connection to network the organizations, and to provide a 100mb Internet connection.
Early on, this project was presented with quite a limited set of options and were cost prohibitive for the more robust solutions which were required to address some of the basic requirements of the park. For example, a 1GB Metro Ethernet solution was priced at $2500 per month per connection respectively, meaning that a full network to 14 buildings would cost approximately $30,000 per month. While this choice would provide a carrier class solution with sophisticated support organizations and five lines of availability, it was outside the financial reach of most of the member organizations. The leaders at BPOC were then introduced to another option – the use of dark fiber and micro-trenching. Utilizing these options, the cost of the fiber installation which included six pair to each of 14 buildings, ended up costing just under $70,000 in total.
Under the direction of Rich Cherry, not only was the BPOC looking toward cutting-edge and innovative ideas to meet their goals but they understood and worked within the financial restrictions facing most of the member organizations. The creative decision to use of dark fiber (unused fiber optic cable), along with the cost-effective method of micro-trenching (which allowed the park to bypass the often time-consuming and expensive methods of traditional trenching), ensured an efficient and cost-appropriate solution to growing community.