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>  News Releases >   2005 >   May

Phones, television and computers converge at Dartmouth

Network infrastructure now supports video, voice and data

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 05/04/05 • Contact Susan Knapp (603) 646-3661

In 2001, Dartmouth embarked on a computing journey that started with the deployment of an enormous one-mile square wireless network. It was part of an institutional vision for a computer network infrastructure that would someday combine voice, television and Internet.

“Convergence” has now been achieved as the College switches its cable and satellite television system to the network. This follows the 2004 migration of the traditional telephone system to VoIP, or voice-over Internet protocol.


Dartmouth sophomore Linzi Sheldon tries the new video-over-the-network offering at Dartmouth's Baker Library. (Photo by Joseph Mehling, Dartmouth College Photographer)

“We’ve built an infrastructure that supports video, voice and data,” says Brad Noblet, the Director of Technical Services. “Students and faculty today want instant information and communication, no matter where they are. Convergence makes the laptop the center of your world.”

Dartmouth’s new video-over-the-network system is facilitated by Video Furnace, a company based in Libertyville, Ill., that specializes in encoding video for broadcast over a data network. Their system allows for live transmission of television programs without separate software like QuickTime or RealPlayer. It works across Macintosh, PC and Linux platforms, and it works on both the wired and wireless computer networks.

The channel offering can also expand with this software, from the current 62-channel capacity to nearly a thousand. Encryption and authentication provide protection for all video content, insuring compliance with copyrights and distribution agreements. Only people within the Dartmouth infrastructure can access this programming.

“Video Furnace drastically increases our ability to offer more channels to faculty, staff and students compared with the old analog cable television system. Plus we have the opportunity to program our own channels, so in the future we might broadcast student projects, classroom lectures or even guest speakers,” says Noblet. “I think the teaching and learning applications are endless.”

Thomas Luxon, the Cheheyl Professor and Director of the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL), agrees.

“The new video capability is very exciting. It will certainly expand the options for students and faculty members to work together to complete assignments and think creatively about new kinds of critical assignments,” he says.

Incorporating technology into teaching and learning is one of DCAL's activities, and Luxon, also an Associate Professor of English and a Milton and Shakespeare scholar, envisions student papers submitted electronically with embedded links to video footage, or even streaming video quotations. It might be especially useful in courses that include the study of video recordings of plays. He also thinks that one basic use of Video Furnace will be to make student access to assigned video recordings easier. Students will be able to access the movies at their convenience from their  personal computers.

“It becomes almost video-on-demand, reserved viewing that can take place anywhere and anytime,” says Luxon.

According to Noblet, there are valuable cost savings by merging the three systems. He says that concentrating on one enhanced network avoided upgrading and maintaining three disparate networks and it resulted in a two-thirds savings.

Both Luxon and Noblet are eager to see the new and probably unusual applications that this new technology will bring about.


FOR DARTMOUTH USERS: This pilot project is available on Dartmouth's wired network at www.dartmouth.edu/goto/dartv. A limited selection of channels will also appear, in certain areas of campus, on the "Kiewit Video" wireless network. Questions from Dartmouth users should be directed to help@dartmouth.edu

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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