Connect launches €2m infrastructure initiative to accelerate telecoms research

Open Ireland will be primarily funded by the SFI’s Research Infrastructure Programme
Dr Marco Ruffini, Trinity College Dublin. Credit: Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX

23 September 2020

Connect has launched Open Ireland, a €2 million research infrastructure initiative to support advanced experimentation in communications networks. Connect is the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centre for future networks based at Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Marco Ruffini, associate professor in optical network architectures in the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin, will manage the operation of the infrastructure, which will consist of a dedicated fibre connection between TCD and DCU’s Glasnevin campus, as well as the deployment of macro and small cells to provide radio coverage.

Open Ireland is funded primarily by the SFI’s Research Infrastructure Programme, with additional contributions expected from companies who will collaborate with academic researchers to explore new applications and services.




Speaking at the IRDG’s ‘5G in Business’ virtual conference, Dr 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.”

Ruffini added that 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.

“Our approach is based on open networking solutions,” continued Ruffini, “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.”

“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,” said Prof Linda Doyle, dean of research at TCD. “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.”

“This new research infrastructure will accelerate Ireland’s development as a global leader for innovation in next-generation communication networks,” said Dr Siobhan Roche, director science for economy, SFI. “It will be a significant asset for attracting research funding and industry investment in Ireland.”

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