Building a Modern Research Network using a Public-Private Partnership – the New Zealand example (and a model for Africa?)
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Research networks face the continual challenge of obtaining high end, flexible connectivity at a price level that is affordable for end users and those funding the network. The development of new cloud-based products and services allied with the rapidly growing demands for traffic pose major challenges for funding agencies. The original REANNZ network was procured from a commercial telecommunication provider using a standard request for proposals (RFP) process. REANNZ had to take what the vendor could supply with little flexibility to allow for innovation and the type of high bandwidth on demand services required by modern NRENs. The need for a national network upgrade at a time of financial constraint drove REANNZ to investigate a shared investment model - a variant on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) where the Crown would invest in a privately held company to the benefit of both parties. The successful implementation of this strategy has now delivered a shared network that will grow over time from the current 10Gb/s to 2Tb/s (2000 Gb/s). This will provide 200x more capacity at about 60% of the current costs.