As the GÉANT GN4-3N Project team celebrates the major milestone of reaching 20,000km of dark fibre or spectrum being lit, the focus remains on a busy and ambitious final year for the project that will deliver vastly increased network capacity at a lower cost than the network it’s replacing.
Built around dark fibre services using 15-year IRUs, the next-generation network is designed to support anticipated 30% annual increases in network traffic whilst utilising both new technologies and new opportunities presented by a changing landscape of network procurement.
With 26 countries now connected on fibre, the deployment status at the time of writing looks as follows:
- 42 routes fully deployed.
- 10 routes are currently in the connectivity delivery phase.
- 8 routes are in evaluation or contract finalisation stage.
- 4 routes in the active tendering phase.
Multiple route migrations are scheduled for the first half of 2023, but first let’s look at recently completed routes:
- Luxembourg – Frankfurt (leased spectrum)
- Madrid – Bilbao (NREN leased spectrum)
- Hamburg – Copenhagen (NREN leased spectrum)
- Amsterdam – Brussels (NREN leased spectrum)
- Paris – Brussels (dark fibre)
- Lisbon – Sines (dark fibre – scheduled for March)
The following routes are scheduled to move into production service during the coming months:
- Amsterdam – Hamburg – Poznan
- Kaunas – Poznan
- Hamburg – Helsinki
- Tartu – Riga
- Riga – Kaunas
- Helsinki – Tartu
GN4-3N: Bridging the Network Divide
Research and education networking has unique commercial and technical requirements. The profile of this traffic – extremely high-capacity connectivity to and from smaller numbers of locations – is very different from typical commercial or domestic network traffic which is typified by many millions of relatively low-capacity users.
Commercial networks also need to return a profit, balancing user requirements against capacity cost. Typically, this is achieved by provisioning capacity with a level of contention (anticipating that not all users will be using their connections simultaneously), and this can limit the ultimate capacity they make available to users. For domestic users this can result in poorer performance at peak times, a situation that is not acceptable for the high-performance users of the R&E networks.
In addition, there is a clear digital divide between European countries (and also within them), with some highly developed areas having preferential access to the network and others that are still poorly served and often penalised by high access costs. This involves a vicious circle whereby investments in technology tend to be attracted to areas that are already developed, leading to a progressive widening of the gap between countries, both in terms of infrastructures and in terms of know-how. Without external intervention this vicious cycle will continue, further widening the digital divide.
The new network will provide improved performance, increased flexibility, and reduced expense alongside long-term platform stability. It enables fairly priced, high-capacity connectivity across all of Europe, where a gigabit of capacity will cost virtually the same across the network and in turn bring consistent and predictable pricing for the benefit of NRENs and their customers.
New Services to Meet the Needs of Research
The new networking technologies introduced as part of the GN4-3N Project have already resulted in the implementation of new point-to-point service offerings for NRENs, providing managed bandwidth services up to 400Gbps across the GÉANT backbone.
The ability of this next-generation network to support innovative services, expand to meet the new needs of high-performance networking, and simultaneously reduce running costs will provide NRENs and R&E institutions and projects across Europe with a network they can rely upon to meet their requirements long into the future.