KAREN goes ‘independent’
NZ high-speed research/education
network in new partnership …
All NZ education to get real Broadband speeds
A year-old YouTube view of the FX Networks network …
2200 kms of optical fibre and still counting.
Heralding a new era for online education and research in New Zealand, Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand Ltd (REANNZ) has announced that it has entered into a long-term partnership with the country’s foremost, independent optical fibre network provider, Wellington-based FX Networks, to provide the national connectivity for the Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network (KAREN).
The arrangement secures the continuation of KAREN’s existing 10Gb/s backbone connectivity and footprint around the country for an initial term of three years through to December 2013, with two two-year renewal options.
The move should mean lower cost, and faster and more reliable national bandwidth options for New Zealand tertiary and secondary education institutions, and could lead to a proliferation of virtual world and other third generation uses of the internet by both faculty and students in education across the country. When coupled with other moves, it should also provide benefits to distance learners.
The Universities of Auckland, Otago and Canterbury, along with Weltech, in Wellington, are already operating a bandwidth-hungry, OpenSim-based virtual world system (New Zealand Virtual World Grid) in test phase in conjunction with the KAREN network which can only benefit from the latest development, which should ease both access and costs, especially as NZVWG only uses local bandwidth, rather than international connections.
The decision to go with FX Networks follows what spokespeople for the two partners described as “a thorough and comprehensive evaluation process.” The KAREN network has previously worked directly with Telecom.
The contract also includes options to move KAREN to a dark fibre-based network infrastructure, which will be essential to ensure KAREN can continue to offer leading-edge network services within a constrained cost base.
The CEO of REANNZ, Donald Clark, said, “This is the most exciting development for KAREN since the network was launched in 2006. We are confident that we have selected a progressive, long-term partner in FX Networks and have secured the best national connectivity options for our community and provided certainty to our members on cost and presence.”
“Over the last four years, the demands of our members has driven innovation in network supply and services across the telecommunications industry,” he said. “In earlier times our investments have helped other network suppliers extend their networks, now we’re helping FX Networks.”
Through moving to the new network, REANNZ will put into effect a new Network Access Policy which will provide greater flexibility to REANNZ and KAREN members around access, and use of the network. The network is currently recruiting a number of secondary schools to add to its current tertiary institution base.
Work has already begun on comprehensive transition plan to ensure a smooth cross-over from current national connectivity arrangements to the new arrangements in December.
REANNZ is currently in the late stage contract discussions with the preferred supplier for KAREN’s international network. An announcement on the selected provider will be made later this month.
FX Networks already has completed most of an optical spine the length of the country and is completing a network right around the country to join with the spine – a number of local bodies like those controlling Hawkes Bay, Pahiatua, Dannevirke and Eketahuna among others have already signed up with FX Networks – which should make access to KAREN and true high-speed broadband internet an affordable reality for most institutions as well as distance education students.
Previously, despite claims to the contrary, the major Telcos in New Zealand have supplied provincial New Zealanders with Broadband, which they pay Broadband prices for, but which generally have not delivered consistent Broadband speeds. In fact, in areas like the Manawatu, consumers, although paying Broadband prices, have often been left with a service, during times of high contention, which has run at dial-up speeds.
FX Networks’ fibre optic ‘backbone’ network covering both islands of New Zealand, however, is the fastest independent intercity pipeline in the country, capable of transferring data and voice at speeds up to 10Gbps.
The organisation describes its network as a ” a ‘green fields’ operation, our 21st Century technology and lean business practices mean we can deliver a Ferrari-type network for Corolla-type pricing.”
The company is privately owned and funded, with 30 percent equity held by New Zealanders. It is independent from the Telcos operating in New Zealand.
FX Network’s partnership with REANNZ follows the announcement in April that FX Networks had signed an agreement with Telecom Wholesale for the exchange of local internet traffic (local peering) at 19 of Telecom’s points of interconnection – 39 currently available) around the country, laying the groundwork for the “most efficient routing” of New Zealand’s growing volumes of Internet traffic through New Zealand’s two main internet backbones.
Peering allows traffic to be exchanged on a local or regional basis rather than transported back and forth throughout the country to be exchanged in Auckland.
Announcing this agreement the two companies said, “With the Government’s $1.5bn ‘Ultra Fast Broadband’ and $300m ‘Rural Broadband initiatives both on the horizon, the agreement paves the way for a whole new range of competitive broadband packages to be developed by ISPs and other service providers.”
FX Networks Jamie Baddeley said at the time of the agreement that it meant that the Governments investment of $1.8bn in urban and rural broadband “will now be able to run local content in a fast and efficient manner.
“This is a big step in New Zealand’s digital transformation that will revolutionise many aspects of society including health, education, commerce and entertainment,” he said. “… I think many ISPs are going to have to rethink how they charge for traffic and there will now be competitive pressure to separate international traffic from local usage and charge accordingly.”
Senior industry consultant Dr Murray Milner said: “This is a very positive outcome with the industry tackling a major issue that is fundamental to the success of the current fibre roll-outs. Local peering means that internet backbones will not be clogged up with local traffic and we will see smart uses of the capability in areas like healthcare where digital X-rays can be shared simultaneously in full definition.”
Ernie Newman, CEO of TUANZ said: “Peering has been on the table for a number of years as one of those too hard issues, after some carriers depeered from the earlier system a few years ago. It was the users who bore the brunt of that with traffic romboning to Auckland when it didn’t need to, or worse to the USA. I’m delighted to see industry players resolving this issue without the need for regulation or government intervention and users will benefit from better performance and lower charges. What’s emerging is the national digital architecture that TUANZ has been calling for.”
Filed under: Distance education, Education, Education in Second Life, Education in virtual worlds, NZVWG, Virtual Worlds | Tagged: Broadband, Donald Clark, Ernie Newman, FX Networks, Jamie Baddeley, KAREN, Kiwi Advanced Research and education Network, Otago University, REANNZ, Telcom Wholesale, Telecom, Teritary education, The University of Auckland, the University of Canterbury, TUANZ, University of Aucland, University of Canterbury, University of Otago, VLENZ, WelTech | 2 Comments »