School Seminar Title: A radical change to telecoms network architecture to provide unlimited broadband to all users: the DISCUS project

Speaker: Prof Marco Ruffini

Date: 2012-11-16

Discipline: Computer Systems


Optical fibre communication was undoubtedly one of the main technological advances making data networks so cost effective to become totally ubiquitous. Data networks have become essential for thriving communities in the modern world, and are effectively the arteries and veins carrying the life blood necessary for economic and social well being and are as important as the road and rail networks. More and more services and applications are being delivered through the Internet, changing the way we work, the way we shop, our social interaction and entertainment habits.

The resulting exponential increase in bandwidth usage have saturated our legacy access network, and network operators and governments around the world are feeling the pressure to act soon and upgrade their broadband access infrastructure. While fibre to the home promises to remove the access network bottleneck that still relies on century-old copper technology, the dream of unlimited broadband is likely to shatter against the inefficiency of current network design, unless novel architectural ideas are developed. As optical fibre becomes the same building block both in the access and core, current network growth practices, based on piling up more and more electronic equipment, become unsustainable.

The FP7 DISCUS project proposes a clean-slate approach to the architectural design by universal application of optical technologies, based on Long-Reach Passive Optical Networks and flat optical core, to produce a simplified and evolvable architecture which will be the foundation for communications for the long term future. The project will design and demonstrate complete end-to-end architecture and technologies for an economically viable, energy efficient and environmentally sustainable future-proof network.

The talk will explain the essence of the ideas behind next generation broadband architectures, based on long-reach passive optical networks and flat optical core, and is aimed at a general audience with no expertise in optical networks.

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