Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has launched “Open Ireland”, a €2 million research infrastructure for advanced experimentation in communications networks through the CONNECT centre based in Trinity.
CONNECT’s mission is “to research and develop innovative solutions for the communications challenges facing society today,” according to SFI.
Existing networks are easily overwhelmed by intense demand and struggle to provide quality coverage in hard-to-reach areas according to CONNECT. The centre’s research aims to improve networks and user experiences.
Dr Marco Ruffini, an associate professor in Trinity’s School of Computer Science and Statistics, will manage Open Ireland’s operation, the focus of which is a dedicated fibre connection between Trinity and Dublin City University’s Glasnevin campus. The infrastructure also includes deployment of small cells and macro cells, components of telecommunication that allow for radio and cellular coverage.
Speaking at the infrastructure’s launch, Ruffini said: “This is a game-changer for networks research in Ireland: 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.”
CONNECT’s solutions to today’s networking challenges are “networks that respond automatically to the needs of the services that run on them”, or what Ruffini calls “open networking solutions”.
The new Open Ireland infrastructure will allow end-to-end research, meaning research can be conducted across many different fields of networking under a singular umbrella.
Trinity’s Dean of Research Linda Doyle welcomed the announcement, saying: “This is great news for research in communication networks in Ireland. 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.”
Open Ireland is funded primarily by SFI’s Research Infrastructure Programme, but further contributions are expected from collaborations between industry and academia to explore new applications of the research.
“This new research infrastructure will accelerate Ireland’s development as a global leader for innovation in next-generation communication networks,” said Dr Siobhan Roche, SFI’s director of industry programs. “It will be a significant asset for attracting research funding and industry investment in Ireland.”