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UTHM (Parit Raja, Johor)

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Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) originally known as Institute Teknologi Tun Hussein Onn (iTTHO) was first administered by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) under a collaboration efforts with Ministry of Education. Subsequently, realizing its immense significance and contributions as a progressive educational excellence centre towards the scientific and technological civilization, ITTHO obtained its pre-university status recognition on 27th September 2000 under the University and University College Act 1972 (Section 20), the Malaysian Cabinet later upgraded this institution to become Kolej Universiti Teknologi Tun Hussein Onn (KUiTTHO).
In 2006, KUiTTHO's was officially declared and endorsed to be a full fledge university by the Ministry of Education underlined. To date, UTHM has over 5,000 students studying in its Parit Raja Campus and surrounding areas and the number of students are expected to grow to over 9,000 by end of year 2010.

The Challenge:

  • Since being upgraded to a full fledge university, UTHM has undergone drastic physical changes in keeping up its status as a university. Changes are being undertaken to ascertain that these changes incorporate the state-of-the-art technologies and latest market innovations available to provide second to none environment for its students. All these forward looking features necessitate the presence of a Fast Network Connectivity in terms of information delivery speed and logistic to end-users. However, UTHM premises are rather scattered in nature and throughout four different key locations - each location is within a 2 to 2.5km perimeter from one another. A cost-effective, robust and reliable network becomes a necessity to provide a connected community for UTHM. A Wireless (RF) solution would present as a rather appealing and cost-effective solution at first instance.
  • Pusat Teknologi Maklumat (PTM), the office entrusted with IT planning and development initially tried connecting these different premises with the conventional wireless RF Solutions. However, actual implementation with RF wireless soon proved to be a far cry from the demanding and bandwidth hungry applications that are extensively used by lecturers and students within the community. The wireless RF solution at times even evolve to become a “created” problem as its small bandwidth just could not take the “load” from these applications. At times it even create “a dynamic bottleneck” which shifts when demands for bandwidth shifted during different peak time demands. Besides these problems, UTHM also has extensive high-end CCTV networks and the wireless RF simply unable to support all these bandwidth hungry applications and system performance was very much in a compromised state.
  • Initial FSO site survey shows rather undesirable result, True Line of Sight only existed between Main Campus and Pangsapuri Perwira. Other sites and locations have limited or worse, no Line of Sight at all. Therefore, the ambitious FSO project to have the entire campus connected using FSO was limited to only bridging Main Campus and Pangsapuri with FSO. As for other locations, UTHM had no other choices but to continue to be contended with the wireless RF to link the remaining premises.
  • In Q3, 2007, with the completion of two new hostel buildings at Taman Perwira to accommodate UTHM growing number of students, a new dimension in network connectivity was thus re-explored and this time around, good news was in sight. The onset of these 2 new buildings brought a new hope to UTHM's wishes to have a Fast Ethernet Link between UTHM premises. As one of these buildings stood at 5-storey high (15m height), and its location situated in between Main Campus and City Campus, it now provide the Perfect Line of Sight and intermediate hop between the Main Campus and City Campus. The remaining challenge was to bridge Main Campus and Taman Melewar as well. Taman Melewar is a quite housing estate transformed by UTHM to become its dormitories for its growing female students. As the population residing in this area are mostly students, the need for a connected network environment is also a pressing needs for PTM. The University has also make it mandatory for PTM department to provide ultra fast internet access to this area for the convenience of these students

The Solution:

  • As usual, FSO Technologies & Solutions Sdn Bhd, a solution provider for FSO technology for Malaysian market and a preferred LightPointe Flight Partner, took up the challenge. FSO Technologies & Solutions consider this project to be a showcase of the company's strength and flexibility, as the company step into new territories of FSO implementation during the course of the project. Among the highlights of the project is the erection of a 20m Mobile Communications Tower (BTS) solely for FSO purpose and also a FSO back-to-back configuration, both of which are the specialty for the company.
  • For the project, FSO Technologies & Solutions applied 6 latest series FlightStrata FSA-155E. FlightStrata 155E system provides reliable and true 100Mbps Full Duplex throughput, with Auto-Tracking capabilities for extreme environmental conditions. FlightStrata 155E comes with multiple transmitters and receivers for optimal signal performance. Also, FlightStrata 155E is capable of maintaining good and stable signal reception up to 2.2km even under harsh and humid tropical environment. It is highly tailored towards UTHM's environmental considerations.
  • Also, the challenge to bridge Taman Melewar and Main Campus would remained illusionary unless a tall structure can be erected at Taman Melewar. FSO Technologies & Solutions considered the possibility of erecting a tower to provide Line of Sight to Main Campus. FSO Technologies & Solutions engaged InstaCom Enginnering Sdn Bhd, a company with vast experienced in erecting communications tower for ISP (like Digi, Maxis, Celcom…) to provide the expertise needed. For the project, FSO proposed a 20m (approx. 7 storeys high) tower, as there're no obstacles in between Main Campus and Taman Melewar that is higher than 16m. The additional 4m serves as a “fail-safe” measure. After the tower was completed, the FlightStrata 155E link-head is being mounted at the top of the tower. The other link-head is mounted on the rooftop of D1 Building, Main Campus. Upon operational, the FSO pair would provide a true 100 Mbps (full duplex throughput) which exceed the current RF bridge (by Tsunami Wireless RF) by a far distance in terms of bandwidth availability, link stability and ease of maintenance.
  • Even though the proposed FSO bridging works appears to be straightforward, it does provide a few reasonable challenges. First of all, the two campuses is approximately 4 kilometres apart. To solve this, FSO Technologies & Solutions proposed a FSO intermediatary hop (back-to-back) at Pangsapuri Block G, which is located in between Main Campus and City Campus. The intermediatary hop acts as a signal repeater, to negate the distance issue and the location also provides a Perfect Line-of-Sight between the two locations. The Main Campus Link-head is mounted at Block G3E, UTHM's Main Campus lecture hall Building. The other Link-head is mounted at the rooftop of City Campus. FSO will set to replace the existing bridge, which is the WiLAN's Libra Wireless RF.
  • Achieve a consistent and reliable 100Mbps full duplex throughput. Provides more than 7 times the bandwidth compared to the existing Wireless RF Bridging option.
  • Allows high quality of data, voice, video and IP based data transmission. AS UTHM incorporated a lot of surveillance camera within their premises, FSO is the most ideal product of high quality video streaming for surveillance cameras.
  • FSO technology provides OSI Layer 1 solution avoiding all the problems and limitations associated with any WiFi bridges.
The FlightStrata 155E offer a reliable way to bridge LANs effectively, with its sophisticated engineering and highly proven records, allowing the university's network ample room for current applications and capacity to grow in the future.