Connect Centre launches €1m telecoms research project

Dr Marco Ruffini, Connect
Dr Marco Ruffini, Connect Centre at Trinity College Dublin

SFI-backed project to improve broadband performance, availability

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25 November 2015 | 0

A €1 million telecoms research project, O’Share, has been launched at the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centre, Connect, in Trinity College Dublin.

Led by Dr Marco Ruffini, Assistant Professor in Optical Network Architectures, the four-year project will explore ways of improving the capacity of optical networks to cope with the surges in demand experienced at large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events.

O’Share is an open access, software defined network-driven architecture enabling multi-operator and multi-service convergence in shared access networks. The project will focus on virtualisation of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) networks to enable dynamic capacity assignment and multi-tenancy.

“O’Share is ultimately about sharing network resources to deliver better results for users,” said Dr Ruffini. “Take a major concert, for example, when tens of thousands of people gather together. The cellular network suddenly experiences a surge in demand – up to a thousand times more than usual. The available capacity reduces dramatically and using a mobile device to access Facebook or to share a video becomes very frustrating.

“All mobile-phone masts are connected to a fibre-optic backhaul network. This will be the focus of O’Share’s work as we explore ways of dynamically allocating resources to areas of poor connectivity.

“We will also focus on multi-tenancy which allows several service providers to operate the optical access networks at the same time. This will also lead to greater competition in the market, resulting in cheaper data plans for users.”

The project, funded through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Investigator Programme, will involve collaboration with several industry partners including Bell Labs and Vodafone. It will also see the recruitment of two senior researchers and two PhD students at Trinity College.

“O’Share also plans to develop an international testbed to demonstrate passive optical Network virtualisation,” said Dr Ruffini. “Our testbed in Trinity will link to the Bristol is Open programmable network developed by the University of Bristol. The plan is to demonstrate how operators can use virtualisation to control different parts of network infrastructure and offer seamless services spanning multiple network domains.”

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