The new communications network for research centres and universities comes to The Canary Islands

• A new section of the RedIRIS-NOVA connection to the islands is rolled out, and the Canary Islands R&D&i network is deployed

The Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, the centre of the Instituto Astrofísico de Canarias on the island of La Palma, hosted the inauguration of the new communications infrastructures for scientific institutions in the Canary Islands, which represents a spectacular improvement in connectivity.

The event to present the new network was attended by the director of the Canarian Agency for Research, Innovation and Information Society, Juan Ruiz Alzola; the island director of the Central Government in La Palma, Miguel Angel Morcuende Hurtado; the director general Research and Management of the National R&D&i of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Juan María Vázquez Rojas; the president of the Cabildo de La Palma, Guadalupe Gonzalez Taño; the Director of RedIRIS, the Spanish academic and research network, Tomás de Miguel Moro; and the General Director of, Borja Adsuara Varela.

The Canary Islands is home to several world-leading astronomical observatories, as well as Universities and R&D&i centres. For the personnel in these centres, in a far-flung island region, in order to be able to cooperate with other experts in equivalent Spanish and international centres, connectivity is essential.

However, the distances and the existence of a sole operator made these services very expensive; for example, only a 622 mbps link to the mainland could be contracted, which was clearly insufficient for sending large files such as the images generated by the astronomical observatories.

Now, thanks to significant investment and the collaboration of European, national and Canary Islands authorities, a series of rollouts has radically improved the connectivity of the academic and scientific institutions on the islands.

2012 saw the implementation of the section connecting the Canary Islands of RedIRIS-NOVA, the national communications trunk network for academic and scientific centres. Now, instead of 622 mbps links, they have undersea fibre optics for the next 30 years, provided by a new operator, enabling up to 128 links of 10 Gbps (10,000 Mbps) between the Canary Islands and mainland Spain. Thanks to the competitive dialogue conducted by (an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism in charge of the operational management of RedIRIS), there is now a much more powerful network for a lower cost than before.

Meanwhile, the Canary Islands R&D&i network has also been rolled out, with fibre optic connections to several islands that ensure top quality access to the RedIRIS-NOVA trunk network; this will facilitate online cooperation between centres in the Canary Islands and academic and research institutions in other parts of Spain and the world.

The event ended with a visit to the Gran Telescopio de Canarias (the GRANTECAN), one of the largest and most advanced telescopes in the world, which it is hoped will lead to important breakthroughs in all fields of astrophysics; for example, finding out more about black holes, the most distant stars and galaxies in the Universe, and the initial conditions after the Big Bang.

Thanks to these investments in fibre optics, the GRANTECAN will now have its own 10 Gbps channels for sending other centres terabytes of data with images captured by its telescope. The new networks will also facilitate the participation of universities in advanced distance-learning projects, thereby helping to reduce the digital divide.



RedIRIS-NOVA is the high-capacity optical fibre access network of RedIRIS, which connects Spanish universities and research centres through high-capacity links to the regional and international academic networks making up the Global Research Intranet. One of the most important of these connections, also via fibre optics, is with the pan-European research network , which enables the institutions affiliated with RedIRIS to access academic networks in Europe and other continents.

This infrastructure is cofunded by the 2007-2013 ERDF Operational Programme 'Information Society' (OPIS) and has been rolled out thanks to the collaboration of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the body funding the project, and the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, through the State Secretariat for Telecommunications and the Information Society (SETSI). It was executed by the Public Corporate Entity, part of SETSI, whose functions include the operational management of RedIRIS. 

RedIRIS is the advanced communications network of the Spanish academic and scientific community. It was founded in 1988. It includes more than 450 affiliate academic and research institutions, representing more than 150,000 researchers and about 2 million potential users. It is funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and included in its map of Singular Scientific and Technological Facilities.