Skip Navigation LinksHome > Electric > Fiber Optics

Fiber Optics

In 1993, CWLP began installing fiber to meet its internal needs for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), load control and other current and future utility functions on a synchronous optical network (SONET) system. By 1996, CWLP was utilizing the fiber network for data and voice communications between our major facilities.

In 1997, an agreement between CWLP and Springfield School District 186 led to the installation of fiber, providing a 10 megabyte (Mb) Wide Area Network (WAN) service to 21 District 186 facilities. By late 1998, the School District’s need for increased bandwidths coincided with CWLP’s own growing need for higher-speed WAN connections. With the assistance of a federal grant obtained by District 186, CWLP was, in early 2000, able to install an Ethernet network that provides communication speeds in excess of 1 billion bits per second.

Ethernet Network

The Ethernet network currently runs on over 270 miles of fiber optic cable and is remotely monitored from CWLP’s network management center at the 10th and Miller Dispatch Center. This allows necessary changes to be made in a timely manner, usually without changes to any of the electronic equipment. The network is continually monitored by qualified network management personnel.

CWLP’s network provides multiple paths across the Ethernet backbone. The system is designed to provide a high level of redundancy, which, in turn, ensures a high level of system reliability. By providing multiple paths, the system can be rerouted around a single point in the event of a failure along one or more of the paths. In addition, critical sites can be dual connected to the network, providing even greater reliability.

The Ethernet network far surpassed the requirements of both CWLP and District 186. In fact, less than 5% of the system’s total capacity was being utilized by these parties, which means the excess capabilities of the network offered great potential to CWLP and the city of Springfield. As a result, the utility decided to take advantage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which allowed electric utilities to join the list of companies allowed to provide WAN and related bandwidth services on a commercial basis. CWLP holds a Certificate of Authority from the Illinois Commerce Commission, allowing it to serve as a telecommunications provider.

Commercial Customer Access to the Fiber Network Read More