SHU Network & Telecommunications Team Saves University Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

News Story: January 1, 2011

Sacred Heart University’s Network and Telecomm Department takes its fiduciary responsibility to the University very seriously. Saburo Usami, director of Network and Telecomm, estimates that his team worked on at least four projects in recent years that will each save six figures annually going forward. One of those projects involves the University’s cable television contract.

Usami says the University’s cable television contract came up for renewal soon after he came to Sacred Heart, and he renewed it after negotiating with the vendor to make it flexible enough to change the channel lineup each semester. That contract was with World Cinema – a company that provides cable services to multi-tenant buildings, such as hotels, office buildings and a few universities – and cost the University approximately $180,000 a year for licensing fees, maintenance, etc. Additionally, the University was responsible for any new construction, such as ensuring cable access when Christian Witness Commons was built, and often incurred costs for repairs or maintenance that weren’t covered under the World Cinema contract.

When the contract came up for renewal again in 2010, Usami decided to investigate other options to save the University some money. The most drastic means to reduce CATV costs would be to stop providing television access entirely.  A less dramatic option would be to receive all of the broadcast “off air” channels to a new head-end in a tall dorm building and transmit them throughout the campus by reversing the direction of some of the signal repeaters.  By purchasing some new head-end hardware, he could also take high-definition signals off the air and transmit those throughout the network.  While this reduced the number of available channels from 70 to approximately 14, the cost to maintain this system would be nearly zero.  This idea formed the basis for his new infrastructure.

Usami was curious to see how much he could bolster this 14-channel lineup through paid services, and began canvassing the area’s CATV providers for rates and solutions.  He eventually met with Campus Televideo of Greenwich, CT, who offered a contract that would restore the other 56 channels to his lineup at a dramatically reduced cost to what World Cinema offered.  Because Campus Televideo not only offered reduced licensing fees, but also provided discounts for months when students were away from campus, the savings were substantial.

Combined with the reduction of costs in maintaining his own “lower fourteen” channels, the buildout costs came to $83,000, and the new contract costs an annual $52,000 – a savings of $128,000 per year.

“Instead of cutting services to decrease costs, we were able to gain substantial savings while offering some enhanced services with the addition of fourteen high-definition channels,” Usami says.

He credits Communications Systems Engineer Mike Gemza with the success of the technical aspects of the project. “It is our job to find ways to provide more services for less money,” he says. “We are successful because we have talented staff who are able to learn quickly how to install and maintain new technology.”