October 25, 2005 Research Triangle Park, NC -- Sumitomo Electric Lightwave today announced the successful installation of its FutureFLEX air-blown fiber infrastructure for the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission's expansion of the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, one of the largest hinge-less bridges in the world, and the fourth busiest commercial border crossing between the U.S. and Canada, according to a press release.
The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission (NFBC) reports the successful completion of the FutureFLEX infrastructure and a 10,000 foot fiber blow linking its Lewiston-Queenston Bridge to the border control plazas in the towns of Lewiston, New York and Queenston, Ontario. The fiber path terminates at NFBC's new operations center headquartered in Lewiston to which security, video surveillance, toll facility, and traffic systems data from the bridge are delivered.
NFBC representatives say that the FutureFLEX system was chosen over a conventional fiber-optic backbone because the air-blown fiber infrastructure better complies with the Border Hardening provisions of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Since fiber is blown on demand with nitrogen through tube distribution and fiber termination boxes, the FutureFLEX system eliminates dark fiber, conventional fiber pulling practices, and the exposure of utilities. The system's infrastructure eliminates the need for crews that would otherwise have to close lanes and portions of the bridge to re-enter the conduit systems in order to pull additional fiber.
According to Sumitomo, with the air-blown fiber system, network moves, reconfigurations, and upgrades are achieved quickly and easily even in secure and limited access areas, typically taking hours rather than the days of work needed to accomplish the same project through conventional cabling methods. The company says the savings in manpower is substantial since conventional fiber pulling requires installers at many locations, whereas the FutureFLEX system necessitates only a few installers, usually at the fiber termination endpoints.
Also, according to the company, the ability to quickly control the LAN and to manage redundant data through the point-to-point infrastructure - which minimizes the number of connections points - facilitates quick disaster recovery and restorations, thereby optimizing fast response and transmission rates necessary for crisis management.
"By having adopted the FutureFLEX infrastructure rather than a conventional fiber optic backbone, we are prepared to quickly change or upgrade our network to correspond with changes in traffic, emerging technology, and new security mandates," comments Michael O'Reilly, IT manager for NFBC. "We're not stuck with what could be obsolete fiber or waiting for long upgrade projects to happen. Instead, we can meet network project deadlines quickly and focus on providing the best service possible."
Participating in the Canada-U.S. FAST program, through which commercial drivers are pre-registered with Customs authorities, the NFBC has also added a fifth lane to the bridge and has installed a new traffic control system to reconfigure the lanes for a faster and safer passage across the border. The NFBC says it will continue the expansion project to include new traffic control signage and new advances in its security video network.