SFI launches €2m telecoms infrastructure research initiative

22 Sep 2020

Dr Marco Ruffini. Image: SFI

The SFI-backed Open Ireland research initiative aims to support advanced experimentation in communications networks.

Today (22 September), the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Connect research centre for future networks announced the launch of a €2m “game-changer” initiative for telecoms research in Ireland.

Connect, which is based at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), launched the Open Ireland research infrastructure initiative to support advanced experimentation in communications networks.

The announcement was made this morning by Dr Marco Ruffini, associate professor in optical network architectures at TCD’s School of Computer Science and Statistics.

Ruffini will manage the operation of the infrastructure for this project, which will consist of a dedicated fibre connection between TCD and Dublin City University’s (DCU) Glasnevin campus, as well as the deployment of macro and small cells to provide radio coverage.

Open Ireland

The project will be funded primarily by SFI’s Research Infrastructure Programme and additional contributions are expected from companies that will collaborate with academic researchers to explore new applications and services.

“This is a game-changer for networks research in Ireland,” Ruffini said. “It will allow us to explore real-world situations outside the traditional laboratory environment and it will open up the full span of the communications network – wireless radio, optical fibre and data centres – for testing.

“Advances in communications networks will drive the digital economy in the years ahead so it is essential that Ireland is a leader in the field if we are to experience benefits in fields such as telemedicine.”

Ruffini added that researchers will take an approach based on open networking solutions, which allow for the continuous improvement of the network. He said this has the potential to deliver better experiences for users, such as the addition of intelligence mechanisms based on machine learning algorithms.

The Open Ireland initiative was welcomed by Prof Linda Doyle, dean of research at TCD.

“This is great news for research in communication networks in Ireland,” she said. “For the first time, researchers will be able to perform end-to-end research across heterogeneous network domains, including mobile networks, optical networks and cloud computing resources.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic