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AARNET upgrade touted as SKA lure

Link with Southern Cross will bring dual 100Gbps links by 2016

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Australia and New Zealand’s bid for the hotly contested Square Kilometre Array (SKA) contract has been bolstered with a significant network stimulus via Southern Cross Cable Networks and AARNET.

The network alliance, branded SXTransPORT, between AARNET, Australia’s research and education backbone network and Southern Cross Cable will result in the delivery of dual 40Gbps circuits in 2012 and upgrades to dual 100Gbps by 2016.

The network pump up is being positioned as an additional lure in Australia and New Zealand’s bid to host the Square Kilometre Array. “Connecting internationally allows Australian scientists to collaborate on major international projects and make leading contributions to global science and research endeavours,” said AARNet CEO, Chris Hancock

Hancock added that the existence of AARNet’s thousands of kilometres of SKA-ready fibre-optic networks already in the ground would prove a highly cost effective solution for the SKA.

The AARNet’s partnership with Southern Cross will assist in combining data from thousands of satellite dishes and will allow astronomers globally to access the hundreds of petabytes of data the SKA will produce. Under the proposed SKA submission the data will be housed in Western Australia and accessed by the world’s research and education networks.

The Southern Cross Cable upgrade uses Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform taking total current lit capacity to 2 Tb and including the use of 100Gb transmission equipment for the first time.

Southern Cross has supported AARNET’s international network reach since 2003.

“This arrangement is believed to be a world first relative to long distance undersea bandwidth at the very highest of capacities. We’re proud to work side-by-side with Southern Cross to support international connectivity for Australian researchers. Increased international data connectivity will benefit many areas of Australian science including astronomy, climate modelling and high energy physics and demand will only increase,” said Hancock.

The SKA board has repeatedly delayed its decision on whether to select Australia or South Africa as the host nation. In its latest announcement the board said that it would hold off on a decision until May.

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