Intune gets EU backing to build future telecoms cloud network

18 Feb 2010

Intune Networks, the company selected by the Irish State to build its Exemplar next-generation network, has been awarded a major EU contract as part of a consortium involving telecom players Telefónica and PrimeTel.

The company which makes tunable laser technology that will define the future of fibre networks is part of a consortium of companies and universities awarded a major R&D contract under the EU 7th Framework.

The Telecoms Network for Cloud Computing

Intune will provide its unique technology to the program to design a future Telecoms Network for Cloud Computing. The consortium includes national telecoms operators Telefónica in Spain and PrimeTel in Cyprus. The consortium also includes Italian software company Nextworks, and the University of Essex and University Autonoma Madrid.

The consortium – led by Telefónica – will design and demonstrate a network that will allow the next generation of ICT services to be rolled out, giving increased flexibility, control and mobility to businesses and consumers alike, while significantly lowering costs.

A key application is the virtualisation of the standard personal computer, pushing it into what is known as the Cloud. The Cloud permits each user to utilise a low-cost, low-power device – whilst their data and computer power sits inside the network.

Widespread deployment of this type of cloud computing could dramatically reduce the energy bills of users and operators, while also delivering social and economic benefits to the IT industry.

What is the Metro Architectures Enabling Sub-Wavelengths?

The EU Programme is entitled MAINS – Metro Architectures Enabling Sub-Wavelengths. The programme is part of a larger EU Framework which will research the Network of the Future. The MAINS project will design a programmable network to demonstrate a practical way to implement cloud computing in future telecoms networks. Future IT applications can use this programming interface to program liquid bandwidth on-demand to service their requirements.

“We are proud to engage and participate in a European research project like MAINS. As an alternative operator working in a highly competitive environment, it is of essence to us to stay in touch with the latest technological developments and be ready to offer next-generation services,” said Vladimir Ivashchenko, chief technology officer of PrimeTel.

“MAINS provides a unique opportunity to trial a cutting-edge networking technology which will help PrimeTel to stay ahead of competition in future.”

The work of Intune Networks

Dublin-based Intune Networks, formed in 1999 by a group of ex-UCD photonics researchers, has developed a technology that can enable a single strand of fibre to move from carrying one signal from one operator to carrying data from 80 telecoms and TV companies all at once.

Last July, it emerged that Ireland is to become the test bed for Intune’s revolutionary technology. The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan TD, contracted Intune to trial its technology here first before it hits mass manufacture. The solution – the Exemplar Network – could sort out the country’s broadband woes and catapult Ireland to the cutting edge of telecoms before anybody else.

The move will grow Intune from 100 workers in Dublin and Belfast today to employing an additional 300 people over the next three years.

“It is a major vote of confidence in Intune’s technology to be part of such a high-profile EU research grant,” Tim Fritzley, CEO of Intune Networks explained. “We are delighted to be working with such high-calibre partners from both the commercial and academic communities. This places Intune Networks at the cutting edge of future telecoms network development in Europe.”

Fritzley explained the problem Intune has solved is how to evolve telecoms network architectures to cope with the massive increase in traffic demand while sustaining profitability and controlling costs.

“Intune has packaged this breakthrough technology into a carrier-grade networking system with a modern software interface, which we will use to work with the consortium as a critical element in developing the Network of the Future.”

What the Exemplar Smart Network would mean for Ireland

Developing the Exemplar Smart Network in Ireland has the potential to position Ireland for a wave of opportunities based on the future of the internet that up to now have been considered an area of expertise of regions like Silicon Valley in the US and several Far Eastern countries who are pushing the boundaries of consumer broadband networks.

Lab trials will commence in mid 2010 with the rollout of the first phase of the Exemplar Smart Network operation before the end of the year.

By John Kennedy

Photo: John Dunne, chief marketing officer, Tim Fritzley, CEO, and Tom Farrell, chief technology officer at Intune Networks

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