Redecomep initiative celebrates ten years with high speed networks all over the country

Initiative integrates education and research institutions in federative units

The year was 2005. RNP started the Research and Education Community Networks (Redes Comunitárias de Ensino e Pesquisa - Redecomep) Program, an initiative of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MTCI), intended to the implementation of high speed networks of optical fibers in metropolitan regions of Brazil, creating a new and robust national infrastructure for communication and collaboration in areas of knowledge.

The initial proposal forecast to enhance the national infrastructure of Ipê network, from the 27 PoS of RNP (26 of them located in the capital) and the quality of the collaboration in the academic community, facilitating the disclosure of scientific studies, the integration between universities and research units, and the information exchange that required great band capacity. Thus, education and research institutions participating in the network would have mutual access to the scientific production, being able to share projects of remote education, for example.

The program included the implementation of networks with optical fibers, high speed network equipment (1 Gb/s), and a model of partnerships with the academic institutions in which location and with state and municipal governments, besides companies that detain the rights of way to the optical cables. The model of administrative and technical management of the program in each metropolitan network stimulated the formation of consortiums to assure its management and sustainability.

 "The great challenge was to structure a project of such size in RNP, which forecast not only the participation of academic institutions of each metropolitan network, as well as the joint of the partnerships with city halls and state governments, and with the companies of each region, among them, distributors of electric power, gas, data processing, to use the infraestructure of ducts and poles, where the whole network of optical cables passed through", tells the Services and Solutions officer, José Luiz Ribeiro Filho, the national coordinator of the initiative at that time.

Redecomep initiative was planned having as base the pilot project of the metropolitan network of Belém (PA), MetroBel, the first to operate, in 2007, with own optical fiber, intended to academic use, with the support of the federal government. The network from Pará was the first to be part of the program. Next, the metropolitan networks of Vitória, MetroVix; of Manaus, MetroMAO; of Florianópolis, Remep-FLN; and of Brasília, GigaCandanga were opened.

"In 2007, when the first five metropolitan networks were inaugurated, we had 15 partners organizators, among them, Manaus Energia S.A, Espírito Santo Centrais Elétricas S.A, Centrais Elétricas do Pará S.A., Centrais Elétricas de Santa Catarina S.A, University Center of Pará, Institute of Superiors Estudies from Amazônia, University of Amazônia, besides the states governments and municipal city halls”, remember José Luiz. “That´s not included the 56 institutions participating in the five networks: nine in Belém, eight in Vitória, ten in Manaus, ten in Florianópolis, and 19 in Brasília", lists.

The innovation has also prevailed in the technical management of the program, especially regarding the development and systematization of the processes and technical activities on a technology of services unknown until then in the engineering practices of RNP.  “Based on the quantity of networks to be implemented, it was adopted the strategy of umbrella contracts of national comprehensiveness, with acquisition by demand (equipment, cables), optimizing the time spent in the purchase processes, which generated significant savings", reminds the Network Engineering manager, Cybelle Oda.

Since the beginning, the adopted model is based on the formation of management committees formed by representatives of the participating institutions. They contributes with the drawing of the networks and the formulation of their management and sustainability models. The self-sustainable management assures the maintenance and operation of the network", explains José Luiz.

Redecomep Program was divided into two phases: the first considered the implementation of metropolitan optical networks in each city equipped with a PoP of RNP, totalizing the 25 capitals of the states, Brasília (DF), and Campina Grande (PB). The allotted resources came from the Financing of Studies and Projects (Finep), from an initiative of MTCI; and the second phase consisted of implementing networks in metropolitan areas with Research Institutes of MCTI, Federal Higher Education Institutions (Ifes) and Federal Institutes of Science, Technology, and Professional Training Education (IFs). The cities benefitted in the second phase included São Carlos, Ouro Preto and Mariana, Petrolina and Juazeiro, Campinas, Petrópolis and Niterói, all already in operation. 

Now the year is 2015. Redecomep Program celebrates ten years of existence, with excellent results and representativity in the whole country. The initiative is of extreme relevance for the integration between the education and research institutions, managers and makers of public policies in the federative units. The provision of advanced infrastructure in Information and Communication Technologies (TIC) represents the effective capillarization of a national policy compromised with the progress of the science, technology and innovation in the country.

Currently, the program is with 39 optical networks, implemented and in operation, in the five regions of Brazil. Such number includes 23 networks in the capitals and 14 in other metropolitan regions in six Brazilian states.

- North Region: RB MetroNet (AC), MetroMAO (AM), RedeBV (RR), Metropolitan Network of Macapá (AP), MetroBel (PA), Metropolitan Networks of Castanhal (PA), of Altamira (PA), of Marabá (PA), of Santarém (PA), and MetroTins (TO).

- Northeast Region: Metropolitan Network of São Luís (MA), GigaFor (CE), Poti Network (PI), GigaNatal (RN), MetroCG (PB), ICTIPB Network (João Pessoa - PB), ICONE (PE), RAAVE (AL), MetroAju (SE), Remessa (BA), and RedeVASF (Petrolina and Juazeiro - PE/BA).

- Mid-West Region:  Pantaneira (MT), GigaCandanga (DF), MetroGyn (GO), Metropolitan Network of Campo Grande (MS).

- Southeast Region: RedecomepBH (MG), MetroVix (ES), MetroSampa (SP), Rede Rio Metropolitana (RJ), Rede Inconf.Edu (Ouro Preto and Mariana - MG), Sanca Network (São Carlos -SP), Metropolitan Network of Campinas (SP), Metropolitan Network of Petrópolis (RJ), MetroNit (RJ).

- South Region: Metropolitan Network of Curitiba (PR), Remep-FLN (SC), MetroPOA (RS).

Under construction are the Metropolitan Network of Porto Velho (RO) and Recop, of Pelotas, in Rio Grande do Sul. The inauguration of such networks is forecast to the second semester of 2015. There is also forecast of construction of networks already planned in the cities of Itajubá (MG), Uberaba (MG), Uberlândia (MG), Juiz de Fora (MG), São José dos Campos (SP), Santa Maria (RS), and Mossoró (RN), of networks under feasibility study in the cities of Volta Redonda (RJ), Sorocaba (SP), São João Del Rey (MG), Bagé (RS), and Imperatriz (MA).

The metropolitan networks already implemented have more than 400 consortium institutions, and more than 60 partner organizations, and exceed  two thousand kilometers of the total cover. The connections are of, at least, 1 Gb/s between their participants, with some already operating at 10 Gb/s. The initiative enhances the capillarity of the backbone of RNP, Ipê network, which interconnects more than 900 campi of the universities and research centers, university hospitals and locations, with speed of multiple links of 10 Gb/s.

“Upon implementing the high speed networks in the metropolitan regions of the country, Redecomep Program promotes the collaboration in research projects and innovative applications between the participating institutions, such as, for example, telemedicine, supercomputing in grid, transfer of great amount data, cloud computing, and high definition video conferences”, affirms José Luiz.

The great advantage of the initiative is the possibility of use of advanced communication services, and collaboration with reduced costs. The entered into partnerships made it feasible the launching of the optical cables in existing infrastructure (poles, ducts, etc.), maximizing the investment in the construction of additional infrastructure, and increasing the capacity of the network.

"In a general manner, the connections previously existing between the education and research institutions were of low capacity, which made it difficult to use some advanced applications, such as high definition video transmission. Redecomep Program fulfills such need, offering network services with gigabit capacity, interconnecting the participating institutions through the opticals metropolitan networks. The broad band of optical fiber does not only offer connectivity, but also several advanced services such as webconference, video conference, and IP telephony (VoIP), among others", explains the Engineering and Operations officer, Eduardo Grizendi.

The Rede Rio Metropolitana (RJ) is the largest academic network built in metropolitan area in Latin America. It connects 51 institutions in the city, through 85 points and university campuses. The extension of the network reaches approximately 305 km of optical fibers in six rings, branches and bypasses, which are used by the academic community of Rio de Janeiro to support the education, research, and development activities. The connected points through the Rede Rio Metropolitana have speed of multiple gigabits and capacity to reach up to 1,9 Tb/s.

Expansion of the metropolitan networks

One of the results of Redecomep Program that deserves highlight is the involvement of the governments and companies in expanding the metropolitan networks in benefit of all State, transforming the academic metropolitan networks in important state initiatives. It was this way in Pará, with the implementation of the program of digital inclusion, NavegaPará, which makes free access to internet available to millions of Pará people and has as goal to take optical fiber to all regions of the state; in Ceará, with Cinturão Digital program, composed by a network of optical fibers that already covers 92 out of the 184 cities of the state, where approximately 80% of Ceará population lives; and in Rio Grande do Norte, with Giga Metrópole project, created from the expansion of the backbone of the metropolitan network of Natal, Giga Natal, inaugurated in 2008.

At the end of this month of March, the initial 40 km will be enhanced by more than 120 km, totalizing 160 km of optical fiber, which will enable the interconnection of the different campuses of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), of Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia (IFRN), and of Universidade Estadual do Rio Grande do Norte (UERN), in addition to reference schools, all in locations of the metropolitan region of Natal. In addition to the capital of Rio Grande do Norte, the region involves the cities of Parnamirim, São Gonçalo do Amarante, Extremoz, Ceará-Mirim, and Macaíba.

"Such expansion is very important to IFRN, once Giga Natal network has provided connectivity with quality and speed consistent with the current needs of the institute. Out of the 20 units we have in all the State, eight work in the metropolitan region of Natal and, currently, in any unit of IFRN, it is essential the good working of connectivity links", explains the IT Management officer of IFRN, Alex Fabiano Furtunato. "Without an initiative as Giga Natal, we would be spending a lot more resources to obtain the same service in the private initiative", highlights him.

In UFRN, leading institution responsible for the collection of the resources that allow the expansion and operation of the network, in addition to the maintenance of its infrastructure, the connection speed is essential so that the advanced communication services may be offered in all units of the institution. "Researches that demand high speed networks may also be developed in our four campuses of the countryside. One of the major beneficiaries will be Macaíba campus, where are the Instituto de Neurociências de Natal and Instituto do Cérebro, both with data centers that need to deal with great volumes of data", highlights the IT superintendent-officer of the university, Aluízio Rocha.

In addition to the expansion, 300 km of access network are being constructed, for capillarization of the main network, with bypasses that come from certain points and reach approximately 350 municipal schools of Greater Natal. The expansion will also allow the future inclusion of health centers and units connected to public safety, such as police stations.

Another example of evolution of the networks happened in Pará. In the last 02/11, it was activated the transportation links connections of 100 Mb/s of the Metropolitan Network of Castanhal, city of the countryside of Pará, to PoP-PA. The network with 35 km of extension, inaugurated in February, 2014, will serve the local community.

With the activation, students and teachers of Castanhal Campus of Universidade Federal do Pará (UFPA), leading institution of the consortium, may enjoy a data transmission with more quality and speed, before hindered by connection problems. "Now, we will have best conditions to take other steps towards the sustainability of the working of the network and, at the same time, agree upon the proper conditions to its maintenance and enhancement of the investments", affirmed the president of the Managing Committee of the network, prof. Adriano Sales, also general coordinator of Castanhal Campus of Universidade Federal do Pará (UFPA).

Redecomep Castanhal is connected with other three metropolitan networks in the countryside of Pará, in the cities of Altamira, Marabá, and Santarém, and also with MetroBel. All four networks are maintained by the Data Processing State Company (Prodepa), which also manages Navegapará program.

Relationship with Redecomep

Recently, it was reformulated, in RNP, the area of Relationship with the Metropolitan Networks, with the integration of the new managers Takashi Tome (CP) and Cristiane Oliveira (BSB).

The area is developing an approaching work with the Managing Committees (CGs) of the networks that compose Redecomep project, so that RNP may promote and encourage the support of the networks in the long run. Also in the work scope are the articulation of demands and needs between RNP and the consortiums; the follow-up of the actions of the business areas; the promotion of the community of metropolitan networks, through the management of the knowledge and of the collaboration; and the survey of information on the consortiums.

Last month, in a meeting of CG of Rede MetroSampa (Sp), the change of the president, after waiver, by retirement, of prof. Victor Francisco Mammana de Barros, of Universidade de São Paulo (USP) was announced. In his place, prof. Milton Kaoru Kashiwakura, of the Information and Coordination Center of BR Point (NIC.br) assumed. The vice-presidence of CG will be conducted by prof. Jairo Carlos Filho, of PoP-SP. In that occasion, the perspectives of MetroSampa were also presented, which will gain new layout and will enhance from the current 145 km to 320 km of extension.  Seven institutions are part of the network: the Federal Center of Technological Education of São Paulo (Cefet-SP); Instituto do Coração (Incor), of Hospital das Clínicas; the NIC.br, USP; in addition to the following universities: Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho (Unesp), Federal de São Paulo (Unifesp), and Federal do ABC, in Santo André (SP).

One of the main projects benefited by MetroSampa is the project of Integration of the Computing Capacity of Unesp (GridUnesp). First university grid of Latin America, GridUnesp was created to meet the demand of teachers and researchers for great capacity of data processing and storage in areas like physics of high energies, mechanical engineering, environment, and geo-sciences.

During the year of 2015, the team of Relationship with the Metropolitan Networks will arrange a series of regional meetings with the managers of the networks, to promote the information exchange, and search for solutions to the found problems. The I Regional Meeting of Redecomep is forecast to be held still in this month of March, in Brasília, and will meet representatives of the networks of the Mid-West region (DF, GO, MT, and MS). Representatives of the networks of Belo Horizonte and Tocantins are also invited, due to the geographic proximity and possibility of synergies.