O’SHARE research project wants to end network overload at festivals

24 Nov 2015

Trinity College Dublin’s (TCD) CONNECT Centre has signed a deal to begin a €1m telecoms research project dubbed O’SHARE to help festival goers access consistent mobile internet and phone signal in the face of a surge in demand.

The O’SHARE project will be a four-year investigation that will explore ways of improving the capacity of optical networks to cope with the overload in capacity that is seen each year at major festivals and sporting events, like Electric Picnic and when major sporting events take place in stadiums like the Aviva and Croke Park.

The Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) centre based in TCD is one of the country’s leading communications labs, led by Prof Linda Doyle, who was included on Siliconrepublic.com’s list of 25 key people influencing the internet of things last month.

The work that will be undertaken by the O’SHARE project will look at how all mobile phone masts are connected to a fibre-optic backhaul network and, over the next four years, will explore ways of dynamically allocating resources to areas of poor connectivity.

The team also plan to focus on developing multi-tenancy on the networks, allowing several service providers to operate the optical access networks at the same time. This, they say, will also lead to greater competition in the market, resulting in cheaper data plans for users.

“O’SHARE is ultimately about sharing network resources to deliver better results for users,” said Dr Marco Ruffini, Assistant Professor in Optical Network Architectures, who will be leading the project.

“Take Electric Picnic, for example, when up to 50,000 people gather in a field in Co Laois. The cellular network suddenly experiences a surge in demand – up to a thousand times more than usual. The available capacity reduces dramatically and using a mobile device to access Facebook or to share a video becomes very frustrating.”

Dr Ruffini also added that the O’SHARE project will create an international testbed to develop communications technology.

“Our testbed in TCD will link to the ‘Bristol is Open’ programmable network developed by the University of Bristol,” he said. “The plan is to demonstrate how operators can use virtualisation to control different parts of network infrastructure and offer seamless services spanning multiple network domains.”

People at music festival image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic