The South African National Research and Education Network (SA NREN) has received a huge upgrade, giving universities as well as scientific and research institutions access to significantly improved performance.

The network has been upgraded to 96-channel, 100Gbit/s fibre, with multi-gigabit-per-second regional links. This will benefit universities and their satellite campuses, teaching hospitals, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, the South African Large Telescope near Sutherland, the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s HartRAO facility and other astronomy users, TVET colleges, and other institutions.

The SANReN network forms part of the National Integrated Cyberinfrastructure System at the CSIR and is operated by Tenet, or the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa.

SANReN is a core national fibre backbone with several managed bandwidth backbone links and regional backbone extensions, backhauling from the submarine cable landing stations at Yzerfontein, north of Cape Town, and Mtunzini, north of Durban. It has capacity on five undersea cables and several metropolitan-area networks and was established in 2007 dedicated to science, research, education and innovation.

The upgrade now delivers as much as 600Gbit/s on the backbone in tests, up from 100Gbit/s previously. It also achieves up to 300Gbit/s for the regional links, up from 10Gbit/s before.

The backbone uses DWDM optical networking equipment from NEC XON. DWDM, or dense wave-division multiplexing, combines and transmits multiple signals simultaneously at different wavelengths on the same fibre. The technology creates multiple “virtual fibres”, effectively multiplying the capacity of the physical medium. The network overlay uses Juniper Networks equipment, also from NEC XON.

“Our researchers and academics need bandwidth of varying scales for different periods,” said John Hay, networking expert at SANReN, in a statement. “The DWDM equipment on dark fibre enables us to light it up quickly at the speeds we need and is installed across the network at all the major nodes: in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Potchefstroom, East London, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Pretoria.”  —  NewsCentral Media