Next-Generation Networks

Building the next generation of the GÉANT Network
(Following on from the “Networks of Future Past” article in our July Issue)

Ronan Byrne, HEAnet’s Chief Strategy Officer has been appointed Community Chair of the NIAC (Network Infrastructure Advisory Committee) for an EC funded project to restructure the GÉANT backbone network – future-proofing capacity to support planned and anticipated growth in demand across Europe.

Through interconnections with its 38 national research and education network (NREN) partners, which includes HEAnet in Ireland, the GÉANT network is the largest and most advanced R&E network in the world. The network connects over 50 million users at 10,000 institutions across Europe, operating at speeds of up to 500Gbps, reaching over 100 national networks worldwide.

On foot of securing European Commission funding earlier in the year, GÉANT is now embarking on the most significant refresh of the GÉANT network in a decade, with a major project designed to support the needs of Europe’s research and education community for the next 15 years.

The project will involve restructuring the GÉANT backbone network through exploration and procurement of long-term Indefeasible Rights of Use (IRUs), leased lines, and associated equipment. This project will serve to future-proof capacity to support the planned and anticipated growth in demand across Europe.

To guide the GÉANT project team in delivering this project, a Network Infrastructure Advisory Committee (NIAC) has been established formed of regional senior experts from NREN Partners across the European Network footprint. The NIAC will advise on decisions to be made in the project, such as choices between alternative connections or alternative technologies, establishing NREN consensus in terms of network infrastructure planning and rollout.

The project was initiated in early 2019 and has a funding cycle running from 2019-2022, to fund investment commitments over a 15-year term. The project is funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme.

GÉANT has been a trusted partner of the European Commission for many years, as the coordinator of network projects co-funded by the European Union and NREN organisations in Europe, and by those in other world regions.

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