U.K. to build high-speed education and research network

MCI has been awarded a $51 million contract to build a new fiber backbone network that will link the United Kingdom's higher education facilities at speeds that will eventually reach 40 gigabits/sec, 20 times the rate of the country's current education and research network.

The Joint Academic Network (Janet) serves schools and research facilities throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The current 2 gigabit/sec backbone, known as SuperJanet, links a total of 19 regional networks.

However, the 20-year-old Janet is straining at the seams as network traffic is rapidly increasing, and the new fiber backbone, SuperJanet5, is intended to ensure that overall network capacity stays well ahead of demand for the foreseeable future.

MCI will build an initial 10 megabits/sec upgrade first and implement the 40 megabits/sec rates later, supporting a potential user base of 18 million users.

But the upgrade is not just about connectivity, said Tim Marshall, the chief executive of the U.K. Education and Research Network Association, which operates Janet.

It's “also about providing the infrastructure to help the U.K. stay at the forefront of global research and development," Marshall said.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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