What is NDFIS?

A EPSRC-funded mid-range facility

The National Dark Fibre Infrastructure Service (NDFIS) is an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) National Research Facility, established in 2014 to enable researchers to develop the underpinning communications technologies for the future internet. EPSRC has provided £2.5 Million to fund the project. Following a competitive tendering process, the 5 years contract for NDFIS has been awarded to UCL as prime contractor for a consortium comprising the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Southampton. 

Aurora2 fibre network

NDFIS will provide access to a dedicated dark fibre network connecting these universities, with onward connection to European and Worldwide research networks via telecommunications facilities in London, as shown in Figure 1. 


Figure 1. Network logical diagram

The fibre paths linking the Universities, comprising some 650 km of single mode fibre, together with control and monitoring systems, will be provided to NDFIS by Janet, part of the JISC group, funded by BIS through its e-Infrastructure programme. Researchers in the UK will be able to access the new network, to be named Aurora2, both directly by placing equipment at consortium sites and remotely using the Janet Lightpath service.

Directly controllable network components

The network is engineered with equipment that can be configured remotely and dynamically, and will be a pioneering example of a Software Defined Network (SDN).

  • 16x16 MEMs and 8x8 MEMs optical switches
  • Optical amplifiers
  • Layer 2 access control switch and 10 Gbps SFP+ (80 km)
  • NDFIS server

DCMs will be installed at remote sites to compensate chromatic dispersion. 

User community

Researchers can access the Aurora2 network (see node hardware), both directly by installing equipment at a host university, or by attaching to the network remotely through the Janet Lightpath service.


Figure 2. User group and access to NDFIS

The NDFIS Aurora2 research network can be used by a wide range of users, including EPSRC funded researchers, industrial partners, other public bodies and overseas research collaborators.

Please note that NDFIS provides the Aurora2 network as a platform for networks research. Aurora2 is not a production network for the provision of data transmission services. If your research requires data transmission services rather than research on future transmission networks you may be able to make use of production networks provided by Janet, see https://www..ja.net.

How to use NDFIS?

  • We welcome any enquiries relating to NDFIS. Please contact the Network Manager Will Yang via email zhen.yang@ucl.ac.uk.
  • We will be happy to look into your request, and discuss the requirement.
  • Once the requirement is defined, you may submit a formal access request by the access form (attached here)
  • We will respond regarding to the scheduling, equipment and cost within typically 5 working days.