Jisc is pleased to announce the launch of Aurora2, our new national dark fibre research and development platform.
The internet is built on fibre optic cables which are installed by the telecoms companies. Until light-emitting equipment is connected to the fibres they are ‘dark’. These fibre cables run under our cities and carry the internet services that we use every day. Aurora2 will also use these cables, but with its own dedicated fibres which will allow researchers to test new ideas without running the risk of disrupting the internet we all rely upon.
The network is funded jointly with the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and will enable researchers to develop the underpinning communications technologies for the future internet.
Dr David Salmon, research support unit manager, strategic technologies for Jisc’s network Janet said:
"We are delighted to be able to work with our funding partners and research colleagues to implement this important new facility. It will form the foundation of a very rich multi-layer environment now emerging in the UK within which new network techniques and technologies can be investigated.
The funding commitments give us a stable forward-look for the next five years, which in turn will encourage strong collaborations to form and exploit the facility to develop these techniques and the applications that will make use of them"
The new network will offer programmable transmission parameters, dynamic reconfiguration into multiple sub-networks and the ability to handle multiple transmission formats simultaneously.
The 5 year contract for Aurora2 has been awarded to UCL as prime contractor for a consortium comprising them and their partners at the universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Southampton. Aurora2 will provide access to a dedicated dark fibre network connecting these universities, with the possibility for onward connection to European and worldwide research networks.
Aurora2 can be configured remotely and dynamically enabling rapid and flexible configuration changes. Researchers in the UK, with a requirement to use the network, will be able to access it directly by placing equipment at consortium sites and connecting remotely using the Janet Lightpath service.
National dark fibre infrastructure service director, Professor Alwyn Seeds from UCL Electronic and Electrical Engineering said:
“We are delighted that the EPSRC and Janet have enabled the creation of the new national dark fibre infrastructure service. This will enable UK researchers to remain at the forefront of technology research for the future internet. UK photonics and UK electronics are large industries with annual revenues of £10 billion and £29 billion respectively.
We will be working with leading UK companies to transfer technologies developed with the aid of national dark fibre infrastructure service into new products and services. The benefits to the UK economy will be correspondingly large."
National dark fibre infrastructure service technical director, Professor Dimitra Simeonidou from University of Bristol said:
"NDFIS will be a platform for experimentation and collaboration across ICT disciplines and user communities. The platform will use software defined network control principles and, as such, will be fully programmable by experimenters and end-users.
Internationally, national dark fibre infrastructure service will be the first experimental infrastructure of this kind and will generate new exciting opportunities to pioneer the development of hardware and software technologies for future communication systems"
As well as supporting research on the future core optical network which underpins the internet, Aurora2 will also enable research with experimental city-wide networks, such as the Gigabit Bristol network. It will also enable interaction with research on wireless access networks like 5G, the successor to 4G.
Jisc is committed to supporting Aurora2 to continue enabling researchers to shape the future of the internet.