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How Loma Linda’s Fiber Enables Community Networking

Fiber to the Home — and through out the city...

Loma Linda has new residences that have some of the highest communications infrastructure in the United States. In turn, this home cabling infrastructure is connected to a fiber optic network that runs through all areas of the city. The phrase “broadband” doesn’t even start to communicate the level of access that residents of new construction in Loma Linda have. Instead, the phrase gigabit-to-the-bedroom will become practical in Q1 of 2006 for Loma Linda residents.

Part of what’s unique is that every new home or apartment they have was built to new standards, promulgated by the Loma Linda City Council to ensure network speed, from the Network Operations Center in the Civic Center, right down to the data jacks in every room of every home/apartment built in the city. Each new residential subdivision also contains a state-of-the-art networking distribution center, also known in networking terminology as an MDF, or Main Distribution Frame. This MDF connects to the city’s fiber infrastructure, and in turn, to the City NOC through the rings of fiber that circulate through the city.

This network rivals those of even the most advanced university and commercial campuses in the world. Residential and commercial connections to the city communications utility enjoy enormous bandwidth, and therefore service varieties and possibilities. Let’s examine a typical communications day in Loma Linda….

 
The Martin Household

Roger Martin wakes up early one Saturday morning and gets ready for a golf outing. The children are downstairs, watching cartoons on TV. It’s a brisk morning, and the temperatures are in the 50’s. It’s a normal, sunny kind of day. Except that “normal” in Loma Linda reads more like science fiction.

Roger gets a phone call from his golf partner. Instead of the call coming in over aerial phone lines, Roger’s phone is connected via VoIP—Voice over Internet Protocol. Roger easily conferences in his other two golf outing partners, Will and Louis. They confirm the time. Roger taps a few keys on the kitchen PC, that confirms his reservations with the golf course through the website’s online registration web form.

Behind the scenes, the Martin household subscribes to a VoIP service that uses VoIP phones connected to a virtual network housed in the Loma Linda Civic Center. Inside the Civic Center, a well-known VoIP services provider has configured several servers that provide virtual PBX services, and have gateway devices to other carriers and the city’s E911 network.

The Martin children are watching the usual mix of cartoons. Their HDTV, however, isn’t fed by coaxial TV cable. Instead, it’s connected to a service provider over fiber connections in the home. Each room in the Martin home is wired for both data and TV coax cable. The home TV cabling system is fed from a converter box located in the Martin’s master bedroom closet, tucked away in a small home signal distribution center.

The Martin children watch their HDTV, which is connected to the data cable TV jack located in the family room. Typical of new residential construction in Loma Linda, each room in the Martin home has one (or more) wall jacks with two Ethernet jacks, as well as a coaxial jack. In turn, the data TV jack runs upstairs to the master bedroom closet, where a cable distribution frame is located—also a standard in Loma Linda. A cable TV/video service provider has connected a distribution box that converts signals arriving from the city’s fiber optic communications cable into the signals needed for TV sets. The Martins also subscribe to optional personal video recording (PVR), as well as using a TiVo-like time delay service. The Martins have also programmed special password codes that disable V Chip-aware broadcasts that over the TV-G that the Martins want their children to watch.

The master bedroom closet distribution frame also contains an uninterruptible power supply that keeps VoIP phone and data services alive when power to the home is interrupted. This same feature of the Loma Linda Civic Center’s Network Operations Center keeps the entire city’s fiber optic infrastructure alive during power outages or power service interruptions and brown-outs.

The Martin home is nice and toasty because the programmable thermostat has picked up and optimized the room temperatures. The thermostat keeps track of heating and cooling areas in the Martin home, and optimizes the heating plant’s activities to save energy (and therefore costs) while keeping living areas comfortable.

The programmable thermostat has a web page that contains settings that Roger set, and occasionally checks. Each year, the Martins save about $900 in heating and cooling costs, because the thermostat prevents high-cost use during peak periods when the Martins are away at work or school. The Martin’s home is also equipped with photovoltaic (solar) cells that augment their home power through a control center located in the utility room, where an advanced power supply keeps the city’s fiber lit.

Jane Martin wakes up a little later, and loathes that she has work to do on a Saturday. A researcher for a medical concern in Loma Linda, Jane grabs a cup of coffee and walks into the living room with the children. Opening up her notebook computer, she synchronizes her office desktop computer with the notebook, and starts to work, occasionally looking up at the TV.

Jane’s notebook PC connects through a home wireless system, that’s connected to a wireless access point located in the same master bedroom closed where the wiring center is located. In turn, her notebook joins a VLAN (virtual local area network) that securely allows her notebook to join her office/lab’s network as a member. All the resources associated with her office networking are available as Jane does her email, and retrieves the collaborative documents that are her work product.

As Jane and her children watch TV, the Martin’s home controller has turned off the sprinkler system and has started to open the solar heater’s warm water into the pool. Another cost savings, the solar heated water has the ability to keep the pool temperature at a constant 85 degrees, a temperature that the children enjoy. The pool cleaning system did its job overnight, reporting that its filter didn’t need emptying.

The home controller, located in the garage, serves numerous functions, including fire alarm monitor, motion/household burglar alarm, modules that control home sprinklers, the Martin’s solar pool water heater, door and window security, as well as electricity monitoring for devices that the Martin children have accidentally left turned on.

The Martin’s hybrid car charged overnight, using stored power from the photovoltaic storage batteries located behind the garage. The PV system’s roof location is ideal to capture solar energy and turn it into stored energy. When the needs of the car’s batteries are met, the system kicks in an inverter that feeds the stored electricity back to the home. Under some condition, the home actually sells electricity back to Southern California Edison to cut the Martin’s electricity bill.

Using a Zigbee (wireless personal area network connection), the hybrid automobile is charged from the stored energy in the array. When the car is charged, the car signals the charger that charging power is no longer needed. The charging circuit then looks up information on the home’s power consumption, and feeds a steady rate of electricity to the home through an inverter (converting the battery’s 48V DC into 120V AC) for use in high-energy-use appliances. Excess power is fed back to the Southern California Edison grid, and the savings are monitored on the home’s energy controller and programmable thermostat system.

The Martin’s home is also connected through its alarm system to public safety monitoring computers that can in turn, signal fire, rescue, police, or other emergency services to the Martin’s residence.

 

The applications within the home transverse both the home’s wired Ethernet, the fiber-to-data cable signal converters for TV, and the two forms of wireless service—WiFi and Zigbee. In turn, the home is connected to an intermediate distribution center (IDF) located inside the community’s pool house. This room is similar, but on a small scale, to the network operations center in the Loma Linda Civic Center, and also contains battery units, fire protection, and value-added services that some residents enjoy.

The residential community, in turn, connects to the Loma Linda Civic Center’s NOC via one of the city-wide redundant fiber optic pathways, built in partnership with the community. Various email, VoIP, entertainment, and other service providers are joined in the NOC.

The City Center NOC is the crossroads of communications for Loma Linda residents and businesses. The NOC also links together public services, including libraries, and Loma Linda University. Municipal services also connect to the NOC, as well as public safety services and those designed for citizen access. Advanced services, such as connectivity to the National Lambda Rail, and Internet II are available here, as peer services for all to use and access as is appropriate.

A day in the life of a Loma Linda resident reads like that of a character in a science fiction book, but the services described are practical for them today. No other city in the United States has this type of communications structure available for residential use, but one day, maybe they all will.