Colin Dalton, Head of NGN Core Implementation, outlines how the work began in 2007 to deliver a Next Generation Core Network.

Colin Dalton

"The NGN core is one of Ireland's most extensive, reliable high-capacity infrastructures, delivering huge speed improvements to Irish and Multinational enterprises and acting as a key enabler of the Next Generation Access programme in the Consumer and SoHo market."

– Colin Dalton See more from Colin

The NGN Core Build

If you think of bandwidth like water, then fibre optics are the high capacity pipes that carry the water and the NGN core network is the complex system of pumping stations that efficiently distribute and deliver the water over those pipes.

The last piece to be completed, the access network, will allow customers to turn on their taps to full flow; but it is the fibre and core network behind the access network that ensure reliable availability 24 hours a day.

The NGN core network, which we began in 2007, is built on top of the national core fibre network, acting as a highly effective distribution infrastructure which delivers multi-Gigabit speeds into local exchanges all over the country.

The rollout involved upgrading our transmission equipment to Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM). We have used this technology in the past to enhance capacity on key fibre routes nationally, but now DWDM use is being massively expanded as part of the NGN rollout. This allows the National fibre network to deliver an ultra-high-capacity NGN core that's capable of delivering dedicated Gigabit speeds to end-users.

NGN Aggregation nodes and reach sites: enabling cheaper, more resilient access to the core network.

We've now installed NGN aggregation nodes in approximately 140 sites, which consolidate all customer NGN traffic and bring it directly into the NGN core at maximum speed. We've also used the node reach approach to bring an extra 470 reach sites (fibre-connected exchanges) onto NGN, via their nominated NGN node. So whether customers are in Ballsbridge or Ballinrobe, operators will be able to offer high-speed NGN connections.

For Service Providers With its all-IP infrastructure, service-aware routers and inbuilt resilience the NGN core offers providers a higher capacity and more efficient network that's also much more cost effective as the last mile is shorter. Importantly it's also more resilient, because shorter access links are less vulnerable to outages. This affordability and reliability are two vital prerequisites for robust end-user take up. The NGN Core is based on hierarchical, resilient core architecture. The failure of any one line card, link, or upper-layer router will cause a rapid re-routing of traffic onto an alternative path. In most cases, the re-routing happens so fast as to be undetectable by the end-customer. With WDM providing up to 320 Gb/s along a single fibre route, and core routers which are each capable of supporting eight times the current Internet traffic level demanded by all of eircom’s Wholesale and retail broadband customers combined, our NGN Core has plenty of room to grow to support Ireland’s future communications needs.

For Business customers the NGN IP core has enabled services such as Next-Generation Ethernet, which offers very high speeds of up to 1Gb/s (1,000 Mb/s) to SME's within reach of an NGN node and much improved reliability. Speed and reliability are vital for applications like cloud computing, which lets companies access a global marketplace of cost-effective pay-as-you-use IT services.

For Consumers the main speed benefits will come from the NGN Access programme, however the NGN core is delivering broadband at speeds up to 24 Mb/s with greater resilience and no congestion, so that streaming media, on-demand video, voice over IP and other collaborative technologies perform more smoothly than previously, with less jitter and latency. As outlined above, the huge capacity built into the NGN core will be crucial in facilitating a successful NGA rollout.

An Open Access Network - What eircom Wholesale customers say about the NGN Core

eircom Wholesale has genuinely made the NGN Core network 'open for business' to other operators. That means Irish businesses such as Bord na Mona, Dolmen Securities and SIAC construction have been able to benefit from very high speed, low cost ICT from operators such as ourselves.

Steve MacNicholas, Managing Director, Interfusion.


eircom Wholesale has built a world class Next Generation Core Network providing a major boost to Strencom’s business. As well as achieving substantial increases in network speeds at more competitive prices, the wholesale NGN service has been the driving force behind our cloud service to business customers. There is now no difference between having servers on-premise or in the cloud. While the NGN service has been a major enabler for the Strencom cloud service, it will also facilitate many other cloud providers, and in the future will be a significant driver for making Ireland Inc. a global hub for cloud innovation.

Tim Murphy, MD Strencom.