NDFIS: National Dark Fibre Infrastructure Service

Research area Network infrastructure, Experimentation facility
Dates  1 November 2013 - 31 October 2018
Funder EPSRC
Contact person Dr Emilio Hugues-Salas
Website http://www.ndfis.org/

The UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) provided funding for a new National Dark Fibre Infrastructure Service (NDFIS) which will enable researchers to develop the underpinning communications technologies for the future internet. Following a competitive tendering process, NDFIS was awarded to UCL as the prime contractor, with Bristol, Cambridge and Southampton as the consortium.  NDFIS provided access to a dedicated software defined dark fibre network using dedicated dual optical fibre connections between these universities.  These fibre connections, comprising some 650 km of single mode fibre, together with control and monitoring systems, were provided to NDFIS by the Joint Academic Network, Janet (Jisc).  Researchers and industries in the UK were able to access the new network, both directly by placing equipment at consortium sites and remotely using the Janet Lightpath service.

Dark fibre is optical fibre that users can access at the optical data level rather than the electrical data level as in conventional communications networks. Access at the optical level enables users to experiment with novel communication techniques, such as high order optical modulation or quantum communication.  This service built on previous work carried out by the consortium using a fixed path dark fibre network, Janet Aurora. The new network offers programmable transmission parameters, dynamic reconfiguration into multiple sub-networks and the ability to handle multiple transmission formats simultaneously.

As well as supporting research on the future core optical network, which underpins the internet, NDFIS enables research with experimental metro networks, such as the Gigabit Bristol network. NDFIS also supports research on wireless backhaul networks for future Wireless Systems, such as 5G.

Phase 2 of this project (NDFF – National Dark Fibre Facility) has been awarded for the improvements of the research facilities.  Further details will be available on the ‘Our Research Projects’ page once the project is open.

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