HEAnet invests €5m in 100Gbps nationwide network

4 Sep 2017

From left: Katie Gallagher, student at DCU; Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton, TD; and Clara Smith, DCU student. Image: HEAnet

High-speed network will benefit Ireland’s higher education and research sector.

HEAnet has begun upgrading its nationwide education and research network to 100Gbps to boost bandwidth accessed by universities, colleges and other higher-education bodies.

The network will connect 216 academic locations around Ireland and will benefit students, teachers, researchers and support staff across the country.

‘This is a game-changer for the way we learn, collaborate, innovate and research’

The €5m infrastructure project is funded by the Department of Education and Skills through the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

Digital revolution sweeps the education world

“A digital revolution is taking place and we want to ensure that Ireland is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that arise by having high-speed connectivity at all levels within our education system,” said Education Minister Richard Bruton, TD, during a demo of the network at Dublin City University (DCU).

“This is a key aim outlined in the Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade. Through HEAnet, more than a million students – along with nearly 89,000 teachers, researchers and support staff – rely on high-speed broadband connectivity every day for learning, collaboration and research.

Following the successful completion of a phased roll-out to the main urban campus locations, six of the seven universities are now connected to the new network. The upgrade project will address remaining campus sites in regional locations, with the national roll-out due to conclude in early 2018.

Dublin-based Agile Networks is providing network design, build and ongoing support services in a technology partnership with Juniper Networks.

Darragh Richardson, managing director of Agile Networks, said: “With 100Gbps capacity, this means that it takes only one second to download 100,000 e-books or 600,000 webpages, and this is a game-changer for the way we learn, collaborate, innovate and research. Importantly, the new provisioning system will also drastically reduce the time it takes to connect other education bodies and new services to the network.”

DCU president Brian MacCraith said the new network, coupled with a significant €8m IT infrastructure investment by DCU itself, will be critical to the vision of developing a 21st-century digital campus.

“With the most modern IT network within the third-level sector and a 400-fold increase in our IT network capacity, we are transforming the teaching, learning and research landscape for all students and staff at DCU.

“Our more than 17,000 students arriving on campus over the coming weeks will benefit from classrooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology to enable the latest teaching and learning innovations, including lecture capture, remote streaming, and local and remote student engagement,” MacCraith said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years