The Network

The “HEAnet Network” is made up of three distinct networks, or layers. All HEAnet services are delivered via one or more of these network layers.

Optical (National Backbone & Dublin Core Ring)

The HEAnet optical network, comprising of our National Backbone via ESBT fibre and the Dublin Core Ring is the basis for all HEAnet connectivity. Dark fibre between the cities and major urban areas has allowed HEAnet to build a DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) network with national coverage. At present the backbone is made up of multiple wavelengths lit at 10Gbps. However 100Gbps testing has been completed successfully and the wavelengths will be upgraded when necessary.. This network interconnects with Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) around the country and carries data between these MANs and to Dublin where HEAnet connects into the INEX peering exchange and our academic and commercial transit providers.


The MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) network was built in 2004 to enable greater reach and access for HEAnet clients.. This network can be extended into any client site, be they main campuses or satellite sites. Due to the flexibility of the network multiple different types of access technology can be used. Using dark fibre or managed services (wired or wireless), sites can be connected regardless of geographic location. With a minimum capacity of 1Gbps, clients are provided with point to point circuits between any two given locations within the HEAnet network, or the wider educational international community served by GEANT.


HEAnet’s IP network is the oldest of the three network layers, but it has evolved substantially from our earlier days. Utilising our Optical and MPLS networks for transport, the IP network connects every client to our two core routers (Cisco CRS-3s). In a dual star topology, each of the client sites has two IP connections to the IP core to ensure resilience. Available bandwidth is reliant on the underlying transport technology, but it ranges from 100Mpbs to 10Gbps depending on client need.

Clients are connected via BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) and failover between the two core routers is automatic. IP resilience can be provided with the addition of a second router in the client site, while ensuring different physical paths are also taken.

In Dublin the HEAnet IP network connects, resiliently, to the Irish peering exchange (INEX) at 20Gbps; the GEANT academic Network, at 10Gbps; the UK academic network (Janet) at 10Gbps; and to the General Internet (via commercial peerings) at 20Gbps.

All three HEAnet networks are built on the basis of collaboration and client input:

  • HEAnet POP’s are placed as close as possible to the clients being served. This not only provides the best possible shared service, but it also takes advantage of investments made by clients in their own infrastructure.
  • Capacity is provided as needed. We take the responsibility of making sure there is no congestion in the client links. To do so we proactively track and monitor usage and then work with clients to plan and execute network upgrades.
  • Resilience: implemented at the PoP, path, equipment and service layers.
  • Service SLAs: We provide Service Level Agreements for Client IP connectivity.
  • Adaptability: services are developed and delivered with clients in mind, but we will customize them as needed for the client own circumstances.
  • Advocate: for new technologies, for client requested technologies. HEAnet is a collaborative project, utilising advanced technologies and protocols to deliver the service our clients require. As an example, the network was first configured to handle IPv6 in 2003 and now both IPv4 and IPv6 services are equally available to our clients.

For information on what services are provided using this infrastructure, please visit Services

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