Sewer system to provide student broadband

The University of Aberdeen is has opted for a dark fibre sewer connection to provide high-speed broadband internet connectivity

The University of Aberdeen is using the underground sewers to provide high-speed broadband internet connectivity for students.

The dark fibre sewer connection will provide broadband at the university's Hillhead student village halls of residence by replacing an existing microwave link between the main campus and the village.

Dr Brian Robertson, head of infrastructure at the university, said: "The microwave connection is relatively low bandwidth and one of the issues is the trees keep growing and are in the line of sight. We needed a hard-wired connection."

The university evaluated a range of options — including leased lines — and a range of suppliers and opted for H20 Network's underground sewer system. The project began in June and is set to complete in the second week of September before the students arrive for the next academic year.

With the 1GB sewer-enabled connection, the university will offer its own wireless broadband service, called ResNet, to 1,700 students in the Hillhead village — mainstream ISPs are currently not allowed by the university to install their own connections for students.

Robertson said: "We are introducing a ResNet service targeted at a mix of social and educational computing and it is the equivalent of a domestic residential broadband service. It is provided free at the point of delivery and the cost embedded in the rents. We will be able to provide students with a lot of bandwidth."

A wired in-room infrastructure will be put in the halls of residence as they are refurbished over the next 10 years.

Student bandwidth usage will also be closely monitored using the NetEnforcer product from Allot.

Robertson said: "It is to ensure equitable distribution and make sure no-one is hogging it. For peer-to-peer we will also restrict usage."

The project is being run in conjunction with another project to provide wireless internet access across the university's two campuses, using technology from Trapeze. In total, across the campus and halls of residence, there will be 1,000 wireless access points.

Robertson said about 80 percent of students now bring their own laptops to use at university: "On campus students are increasingly coming with their own laptops. They want to be more flexible in how they access our resources."