Installing Fiber Backbone at GILLBT

In 2009 we had a lightning storm that knocked out half of the network equipment at the GILLBT office in Tamale.  Part of the reason for that was that all of the buildings were connected with copper cabling, creating an antenna for the lightening.  So although we did not have a direct strike, we still had quite a bit of damage.  Before the lightning storm I had been thinking about what it would take to replace our network backbone, the connections between the buildings, with fiber optic cable, but after the storm it became much more important.  The problem was that the cost was too high.

Last year we found out that a company would donate the equipment to us through Wycliffe, UK.  We just had to get it from the UK to Ghana, something that we were able to do through travelling missionaries. We also needed to send the measurements of what all of our cable runs would be since they needed to be pre-terminated.

Fiber runs at the GILLBT office from the IT department to the other buildings.
Fiber runs at the GILLBT office from the IT department to the other buildings.

Installing fiber between buildings is not a simple task.  There are large concrete pads around each building, so in order to go underground we would need to knock out a lot of concrete.  Between the buildings are walkways so hanging cables had a high chance of getting knocked.  We were finally able to run the cables between buildings over walls that had been setup for security.  We couldn’t run them on top of the walls, but need to hang them a couple of feet above.

The next problem was how to support hanging cables.  The sun is VERY hot in Tamale, especially during dry season.  Using a metal bar for support would mean that it might get hot enough to eventually damage the cable.  A wood board would eventually deteriorate in the weather.  We found a compromise by using angle iron that was lined with plywood.  This gave us strength and insulation from the heat.

I think I’ll let the process of running the fiber be told through pictures.  Check out the photo album on Facebook.

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