Major breakthrough as optical fibre link completed

Tuesday, 28 January 2003

The University of Adelaide has made a significant breakthrough in connecting its campuses with the recent completion of a 10.5- kilometre run of optical fibres between its North Terrace and Waite Campuses.

Undertaken without Commonwealth assistance, its specific intent is to further the research, development and teaching activities of the University and its major partners in the project, CSIRO and PIRSA.

"The University has, in recent years, made a significant investment in high-end computing and data storage infrastructure. It is imperative that the University campuses are connected with dedicated optical fibre that allows all University research groups ready access to the central computing infrastructure," the University's Vice- Chancellor Professor James McWha said.

As the cost of leased bandwidth from telecommunications companies makes the intensive transfer of data between campuses uneconomical, the University needed to take the path of installing its own infrastructure, he said.

"This dedicated optical fibre link back to central computing resources is essential for providing central computing support to the new $32m National Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, as well as other world-leading research groups at the Waite campus. The link also supports high capacity computing and communication services vital to the new Repromed building on Fullarton Road," Professor McWha said.

"The need for the University to pursue its own means of establishing bandwidth to support local research activities is heightened by the recently-released Final Report of the Systemic Infrastructure Initiative Higher Education Bandwidth Advisory Committee, where South Australia barely appears in the Commonwealth's plans for an Australian Research and Education Network," said Scott Snyder, General Manager of Information Technology Services at the University of Adelaide.

"This follows a pattern of South Australia receiving very little funding for research-related bandwidth needs. For example, the Centre for Networking Technologies for the Information Economy (CeNTIE) optical fibre link from Melbourne to Perth runs within 50 km of the Adelaide CBD but fails to connect to any SA educational institution," Snyder said.

"It has become quite clear that if the University is going to obtain the bandwidth required to support research and teaching activities, it cannot wait for Commonwealth government grants or assistance," Professor McWha said.

The "cooperative" approach to funding the optical fibre installation follows other significant IT initiatives by the University, Snyder said.

"These include educationally-based commercial activities, which include hosting the national repository of digital learning objects being developed in the $68m Schools Online Curriculum Content Initiative, the nationally-used EdNA Online resource site, and online education sites for places as far away as Japan," he said.

"The University's approach in all of these activities is to put together a critical mass of groups with similar IT needs so that education bodies and initiatives can afford to use the same high- quality infrastructure commonly found in commercial organisations such as banks to support their day-to-day activities.

"Reliable, high-quality IT resources are a fundamental pre-requisite to research, learning and teaching activities," Professor McWha said.

Bandwidth-related impediments to research in the State will shortly become an issue again, with the South Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing's new supercomputing cluster requiring extensive data transfer with other supercomputing groups to achieve the installation's expected level of benefits to the research community, Snyder said.

"The University is now investigating a second optical fibre installation that could connect to the CeNTIE link via Gawler, in the process providing necessary bandwidth to the University's Roseworthy campus, research activities at the Women's and Children's and Lyell McEwin hospitals, as well as student residential accommodation.

"The University is in the initial stages of recruiting partners for the project, and interested parties should contact the IT Services department," Snyder said.


Contact Details

Dr Scott Snyder
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5469

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814