An initiative started in 1989, under the Computer Board, with the aim of developing of a national broadband network to support UK higher education and research. The preparatory work culminated in 1992 with the award of a contract worth 18M pounds to British Telecom to provide networking services over a four year period that extends to March 1997.
The BT contract will provide a national network with two components: a high speed, configurable bandwidth network serving up to 16 sites, initially using PDH to be replaced with SDH, and a high speed switched data service (SMDS) serving 50 or more sites. The primary role of the PDH/SDH component will be to support the development and deployment of an ATM network. These components will be complemented by several high performance Metropolitan Area Networks each serving several closely located sites. The aim is to provide, within the first year of the project, a pervasive network capable of supporting a large and diverse user community.
The network has two parts, an IP data network and an ATM network, both operating at 34Mbit/s. Early in August 1993 the pilot IP network was transferred to full service and was configured to provide a trunk network for JIPS, the JANET IP Service.
In November 1993 work was well advanced on the next phase which aims to extend SuperJANET to a large number of sites. The pilot four site ATM network will be extended to serve twelve sites and will expand the scope of the video network. The principal vehicle used for the expansion of the data network will be the SMDS service provided by BT. Most of the work associated with the development of this phase is expected to be completed by the end of March 1994.