TelstraClear wins $43m REANNZ advanced network contract

Researchers to have 10Gbit/s by the end of the year

TelstraClear has won the $43 million contract to build and operate New Zealand’s advanced research network for REANNZ (Research and Education Advanced Network of New Zealand).

TelstraClear and its subsidiary Sytec will construct and run the network for four years, with research institutions and academia matching that figure.

Researchers will get access to 10Gbit/s on TelstraClear’s national fibre-optic network. This will be on a separate wavelength from the telco’s commercial data pipe.

Network routers and switches will be owned by REANNZ, however, according to an earlier statement by Charles Jarvie, who has been leading REANNZ’s advanced network project. They will be managed by TelstraClear during the four-year agreement, after which, operating costs will be met from member subscriptions. Jarvie says the network should be self-sustaining from that point onwards.

Although overseas advanced research networks have been built and operated by the institutions themselves, rather than commercial operators like telcos, Jarvie says there was never a mandate from the government to build any infrastructure, only to facilitate connectivity throughout the New Zealand and international research community.

While REANNZ chairman Jim Watson states that the network will provide super-fast links to peers nationally, and in 40 countries around the world, he makes no mention of what type of international connectivity will be arranged.

TelstraClear spokeswoman Jodine Laing says the advanced network is ready for international connectivity, but the telco will not itself provide this. International bandwidth to Australia and the US is expected to be the most expensive component of the network, Jarvie said earlier. New Zealand commercial rates for international bandwidth are some of the highest in the world.

Nationally, the members will connect to the network at access facilities or points of presence (POPs) at Crown Research Institutions, universities and ISPs. The standard connection alternative will be 1Gbit/s per institution, Jarvie says but he expects that some smaller members will only take up 100Mbit/s circuits. The goal for each individual researcher is 100Mbit/s, says REANNZ.

The first part of the network has already been deployed — before the contract was signed. It links AgResearch in Dunedin with Crop & Food in Invercargill.

The rest of the country’s research institutions will be gradually linked together so, by the end of the year, the network should be completed.

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