About the National Pensions Office
The National Pensions Office (NPO) is the government body that provides income for almost 2 million Belgian pensioners and employs over 2000 employees, many of whom are based at its head office in Brussels. A variety of important functions are undertaken at the NPO, where accuracy and efficiency are paramount, such as pension calculations and scheduling. Given the mission-critical nature of these tasks, a reliable IT network infrastructure is of utmost importance. The Molex Premise Networks blown fibre solution therefore formed an integral part of the new IT system installed as part of its head office refurbishment.
About the Site
Standing at 36 stories, the Tour du Midi in Brussels is one of the tallest buildings on the city’s skyline. It looms high above the city’s South station, which is used by Thalys and Eurostar trains from across Europe. The building was originally constructed in the 1960’s and recently underwent extensive renovation. This provided an ideal opportunity to refurbish the offices and create an improved, modern working environment, including the updating of the company’s IT infrastructure.
Laserstream — the Perfect Solution
Increasing the bandwidth requirements and giving users a higher speed network were key drivers in the decision to use Molex Premise Networks’ blown fibre solution — Laserstream. Blown fibre works on the basis of pre-installing tubes, designed to contain fibre cable bundles, which can be blown in at a later point in time.
In their tender response, Netconstruct, a Molex Premise Networks Certified Installer, recommended Laserstream to be used as the foundation of the IT networks upgrade. They were the only installer to propose a blown fibre solution, due to the unique properties they knew it could present to the site.
Ivo Tutens, attaché ICT & Networks explained: «As soon as the benefits of Laserstream were explained to us, it became the obvious choice, because it offers such flexibility in terms of both implementing and upgrading the fibre infrastructure». He also added that: «The versatility of this solution is such that it can deliver cost benefits. As fibre is deployed when required, the need for «dark» fibres is eliminated, and existing links can be re-routed to new users.» This would enable the NPO to cater for future expansions, growing bandwidth requirements and technology upgrades.
Due to the sheer size of the Tour du Midi (40000 square metres), the building required a considerable amount of fibre cabling. In fact, over 7kms of 8 core OM2 fibre were used in the installation — 70 times the height of the building.
An active fibre backbone connects all 36 floors to a central IT room, which consisted of 800 links and 1600 Xpress SC Connectors. A redundant fibre backbone then connects each adjacent floor and can also be used as back up in the event of any problems arising.
This helps maintain 100% network uptime, which is vital, given that millions of pensioners rely daily upon the NPO for their service.
The renovation of the building was carried out in stages — five stories at a time — in order to minimize disruption to staff and visitors. During the installation, Netconstruct worked closely with the NPO as well as other contractors onsite.
Gert Molkens, Managing Director, Netconstruct commented that: «One of the greatest challenges of the installation was actually accessing some of the areas into which fibre was to be installed. In years to come, when it comes to upgrading the fibre, we will not have the same difficulties of access, as Laserstream can be upgraded by simply blowing in new fibres. From an installer’s point of view this is one of Laserstream’s greatest advantages!»
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