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News | Feb. 13, 2019

Trading in copper for fiber optic

By Airman 1st Class Marcus M. Bullock 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

An Airman looks over his clipboard, scanning the schematics for the routine checks to be performed. It is dark and the only light is from the open manhole cover. A splash echoes with each step he takes from the water that has built up underground, soaking his boots as the required cable inspections are performed.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jordan Reeve, cable and antenna technician with the 633 Communications Squadron, climbs the ladder that leads to the surface, assisted by another technician. The manhole cover lands loudly as the technicians move it back into place. These inspections are done, but there are many more still to go.

With only a 15-person team, the “Cable Dawgs,” 633rd CS cable and antenna technicians, are responsible for the installation and maintenance of cables and antennas that cover a roughly 90 square mile area at Joint Base Langley- Eustis, Virginia. These technicians are responsible for revamping the infrastructure and modernizing JBLE because much of the area the Cable Dawgs cover still has the traditional copper cables in place.

To bring JBLE into the future, the Cable Dawgs have been replacing those copper cables on base with newer fiber optic cables.

According to Senior Airman Lantz Jones, 633rd CS cable and antenna technician, the decision to switch from copper cables to fiber optic cables will help units on base to accomplish their mission.

Other Air Force bases have begun to make the switch from the traditionally used copper cables to the newer fiber optic cables which provide a number of added benefits.

“The cost to install is less, it’s easier to maintain and the bandwidth is nearly untested,” said Tech. Sgt. Auburn Sprinkle, 633rd CS NCO in charge of cable antenna systems. “As we need more and more computation of data, fiber optic is the way that we’re going.”

With this heavy workload schedule, the Cable Dawgs are finding a way to keep up with the needs of the base. Each installation has their own set of guidelines they follow and the Cable Dawgs are no different. The guidelines on JBLE allow the Cable Dawgs to continually take on new tasks and hold themselves to a higher standard.

“Whenever we do new installations, we got a job coming up for the hospital expansion, any new expansion that’s coming through, plans and coordinates the communications requirements through us,” said Sprinkle. “So a lot of what we do is review the project packages, making sure they’re adhering to Langley standards.”

 Changing from copper cables to fiber optic cables will not only allow for units to accomplish their missions more efficiently, but the benefits will be noticed in other aspects on base. Personnel should expect to experience faster internet speeds in their work centers, and even the Airmen in dorms will experience better Wi-Fi and streaming abilities.

Overhauling the cable infrastructure at JBLE will be an ongoing project, but the members of the Cable Dawgs stand ready to go above and underground in order to bring JBLE into the future.

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