Science Foundation Ireland

Launch of “Open Ireland” – €2 million open networking testbed

Dr Marco Ruffini

‘Open Ireland’, a €2 million research infrastructure to support advanced experimentation in communications networks, has been launched by CONNECT.

The announcement was made at the IRDG’s ‘5G in Business’ virtual conference by Dr Marco Ruffini, Associate Professor in Optical Network Architectures in the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Ruffini will manage the operation of the infrastructure which will include a dedicated fibre connection between Trinity College Dublin and DCU’s Glasnevin campus, as well as the deployment of macro and small cells to provide radio coverage. Funded primarily by Science Foundation Ireland’s ‘Research Infrastructure Programme’, additional contributions are expected from companies who will collaborate with academic researchers to explore new applications and services.

The testbed will take an end-to-end approach to the network, including wireless, optical and cloud-based research using open interfaces and open source. It will investigate intelligent control plane technology and protocols and enable 100X scalability, exploring issues such as capacity, latency, availability, energy, and automation.

Key features:

  • Open Ireland will be based on open networking technology, making use of open interfaces and open source. It will include OpenRAN, cloud central office, and disaggregated optical systems.
  • It will enable experimentation on AI-based intelligent control mechanisms, to provide full network automation and customisation, across wireless, optical and cloud domains.
  • It will enable experimentation on network infrastructure sharing, across multiple operators and services, to help with cost savings and a greener, more sustainable approach to networking.
  • It will consist of both indoor and outdoor cells, based on OpenRAN split 7.2. It will include optical transmission technology to experiment on distances of 2,000 km.
  • It will use dark fibre connectivity in Dublin’s docklands and to DCU, providing the freedom to carry out any type of transmission experiments, without causing disruption to production networks.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Marco 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.

“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.

“While many cities around the world are developing smart city testbeds, these have the limitation of using commercial network technologies. Our approach is based on open networking solutions, which allow for the continuous improvement of the network. This has the potential to deliver better experiences for users such as the addition of intelligence mechanisms based on machine learning algorithms.”

Welcoming the announcement, Prof. Linda Doyle, Dean of Research at Trinity College Dublin, said:

“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.

“This will be a significant support for applications for major European funding awards, and will enhance the national research ecosystem by providing opportunities for further collaboration between industry and academia.”

Dr Siobhan Roche, Director Science for Economy, Science Foundation Ireland, said:

“The aim of the SFI Research Infrastructure Call is to support the research community in building and sustaining the infrastructural capacity to accomplish high quality, high impact, innovative research, while enhancing and underpinning enterprise competitiveness and societal development in Ireland.

“This new research infrastructure will accelerate Ireland’s development as a global leader for innovation in next-generation communication networks. It will be a significant asset for attracting research funding and industry investment in Ireland.”

SFI grant number: 18/RI/5721

CONNECT is the world leading Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications. CONNECT is funded under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres Programme and is co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund. We engage with over 35 companies including large multinationals, SMEs and start-ups. CONNECT brings together world-class expertise from ten Irish academic institutes to create a one-stop-shop for telecommunications research, development and innovation.


Homepage Feature