Portugal is the first European country to have its NREN (National Research and EducationNetwork) connected by fibre, through the new generation of the European GÉANT network. The activation was made through the direct connection between Porto and Bilbao under the GÉANT project (GN4-3N).

On 25 June, a direct access was activated between the Science, Technology and Society Network (RCTS), the national research and education network managed by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) through its FCCN Unit, and the European network GÉANT. The installation was completed in the city of Porto, in a direct connection to Bilbao, thus increasing the flexibility and redundancy of the Portuguese connectivity.

This action, carried out under the GÉANT project (GN4-3N), is aligned with the RCTS100 project and allowed RCTS to be the first national research and education network (NREN) to migrate to the new generation of this fibre infrastructure of the European network.

In addition to this reinforcement of international connectivity, which guarantees protection of the network from possible failures, this new connection will, in articulation with the Lisbon-Oporto and Lisbon-Madrid routes, ensure significant benefits in the performance and flexibility of the network and its respective interconnections. Cost reduction benefits are also expected in the long term.

Thanks to this integration, Portugal becomes the first country whose national research and education network migrates to the new fibre network of GÉANT - the European network that articulates FCCN's counterparts. This European project to extend and upgrade pan-European connectivity involves an investment of around 63 million euros and aims to support the transition of national networks to fibre connectivity, aiming to reduce the European digital divide . It has been around ten years since GÉANT's network infrastructure has seen such deep and impactful upgrades.

In Portugal, this new connection has been accompanied, at the national connectivity level, by the RCTS100 project, co-funded by Compete, Lisboa2020 and Algarve2020, through which FCCN has been working to strengthen the National Research and Education Network (RCTS), with a view to creating potential capacity to deliver services at 100Gbps.

At the end of 2020, for example, six new connection routes were activated in Beja, Bragança, Vila Real and Viseu. Already in 2021, four new fibre rings were activated in the city of Lisbon. 

"The [project] RCTS100 consists of the extension of the fibre-optic infrastructure and the technological upgrade of the Portuguese academic network," explains the General Coordinator of the FCCN Unit, João Nuno Ferreira, adding that "the design of the new GÉANT network, in which FCCN was directly involved, from the very first hour, represents a historic milestone at several levels: not only does it increase the resilience of RCTS, in its connections to Europe and the rest of the world, but these connections are made using more flexible means and with greater capacity."

In conclusion, the general coordinator of FCCN adds that "also important is the increase of GÉANT network resources, installed in the Iberian Peninsula, with greater redundancy in the connections to the remaining European regions, as well as a greater balance in the connections between the various regions. In this way the user communities of Science, Technology and Higher Education are prepared and have the appropriate means to embrace the new challenges of the funding cycle that now begins, both nationally and internationally.

NREN GN4 3N illustrative map GEANT Network fccn FCCN Computation Unit
Map showing the new generation of the European GÉANT network

A news item on GÉANT's CONNECT blog, dedicated to the same topic is available to read.

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