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Neos Networks delivers education and research dark fibre network across Northern Ireland

Neos Networks introduces education and research dark fibre network to Northern Ireland, bringing new points of presence and Belfast-based access centres designed to offer greater resilience through sub-sea backup links to mainland UK

Digital network and supporting services supplier for the UK’s tertiary education and research sector, Jisc, has chosen business connectivity provider Neos Networks to deliver a new dark fibre network in Northern Ireland.

Member organisation Jisc supports infrastructures such as the Janet high-speed network for the UK research and education community, and 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 is designed to aid educational and research establishments by providing high-capacity fibre connectivity, capable of achieving speeds up to 100Gbps, between Jisc resources and datacentres in the UK, Northern Ireland and key partner networks in Dublin. The contract was awarded to Neos following a competitive tender and represents another phase in the ongoing overhaul of Jisc’s Janet Network across 15 UK regions.

“We need to continually improve and enhance the connectivity options for the institutions we serve. This new network will give us the bandwidth, the capability and the reliability we need to deliver on that goal,” said Neil Shewry, deputy director, network delivery at Jisc. “This network will provide future-proof connectivity to Jisc’s members and help to meet increasing demand created by the ongoing shift to the hybrid learning environment.”

The Northern Ireland commission follows on from Neos delivering a dark fibre network for Jisc across the North West of England, which was announced in January 2022. It 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 two contracts form part of an ongoing review and upgrading of the Janet Network, designed to boost the capacity, speed and efficiency of its regional centres.

The new gigabit-capable dark fibre network is said to be able to benefit from improved resilience through two separate backup routes to mainland UK via submarine cables to the company’s unbundled exchanges in Glasgow and Southport. Deployment of the new network is already underway as part of the initial seven-year contract.

The new contract win was another significant milestone for Neos Networks, said the company’s managing director of wholesale and smart infrastructure, Sarah Mills.

“We are immensely proud of our 20-year relationship with Jisc,” she said. “The new network will deliver operational efficiencies for Jisc and enable it to continue to improve the services it offers to its members in the education and research arena.”

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