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Jisc selects Neos Networks for gigabit fibre network serving north-west England

Business connectivity provider strikes partnership to connect major universities and research centres in Liverpool and Manchester to gigabit-capable fibre network offering up to 100Gbps connections and 10-fold increases

Jisc, which provides UK universities, colleges and research centres with a shared digital infrastructure and services, has chosen business connectivity provider Neos Networks to deliver a new dark fibre network spanning the north-west region of the UK.

The member organisation, which supports infrastructures such as the Janet high-speed network for the UK research and education community, aims to help save the sector time and money by negotiating sector-wide deals with suppliers. It also offers expert, trusted, impartial advice on digital technology for education and research built from its 30 years’ experience serving the sector.

The new network will replace Jisc’s existing Janet North network, which currently serves the region. It will provide gigabit capability to all the sites using the new network, with some seeing a 10-fold speed increase compared to their current offering and all achieving high-capacity speeds up to 100Gbps.

The north-west is one of Jisc’s busiest regional centres, serving more than 150 sites across the region, including large universities in Manchester, Liverpool and Lancaster, numerous colleges and major research establishments such as Jodrell Bank, and the Science & Technology Facilities Council laboratory at Daresbury, which is the central point for handling data arriving in the UK from the Hadron Collider in CERN’s Switzerland laboratory.

The contract was awarded following a competitive tendering process and is the latest installment in Jisc’s ongoing overhaul and rationalisation of 15 regional networks connected into the organisation’s national backbone infrastructure. Deployment of the network will begin immediately and Jisc expects it to begin offering services to member institutions as early as the third quarter of 2022.

“The new gigabit fibre capability will ensure that Jisc stays ahead of the requirement in terms of speed, capacity and future growth for its member universities, colleges and research centres”
Pete Asman, Neo Networks

“The network will play a key role in the ongoing shift to the hybrid learning environment, as well as the greater dependence on cloud-based resources that is being experienced across the higher education sector,” said Jisc chief technology officer Jeremy Sharp. “The new network was a crucial step forward within a changing communications environment. Importantly, as a publicly funded body, this agreement helps future-proof our network, provides 5G backhaul capability for our members, and ensures we can deliver value for money not only to our member organisations, but also to those commercial customers that seek access to our services.”

As well as this latest north-west network contract, Neos has previously secured a contract to upgrade and merge two Midlands networks into one new high-speed, high-capacity network, and the contract covering Jisc’s south of England network.

Neos regards the new contract as cementing its position as Jisc’s primary network communications provider. “Our relationship with Jisc goes back some 20 years and we are very pleased to take on this latest rebuild to significantly upgrade the Janet network in the north-west of England,” said Pete Asman, managing director for public sector and enterprise at Neo Networks.

“Traffic on the network continues to grow exponentially, and the new gigabit fibre capability will ensure that Jisc stays ahead of the requirement in terms of speed, capacity and future growth for its member universities, colleges and research centres,” he added.

In December 2021, Neos Networks completed the latest leg in an infrastructure expansion to hit its target of acquiring 550 unbundled BT exchanges. It also opened the first of four metro access networks to offer last-mile services direct to nearly 10,000 regional businesses to connect over 200 public service sites in a bid to improve digital and social inclusion. Jisc is already confirmed as its first customer to benefit from the Liverpool access network.

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