NgREN FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Question 1: What is NgREN?
Answer 1: NgREN is an acronym for “Nigerian Research and Education Network”. It is Nigeria’s National Research and Education Network (NREN) interconnecting all higher education institutions (Universities, Poly/monotechnics, Colleges of Education – Federal, State and Private) and research institutes on a high capacity fibre backbone to allow them communicate, collaborate and share resources.
Question 2: What kind of services will the NgREN provide?
Answer 2: Any kind of service that supports teaching and research can be provided. NgREN will strive to provide services depending on the needs of the user communities in the member institutions. At the outset, NgREN will provide the following services; backbone and lastmile connectivity, IPLC to other NRENs/RRENs, internet bandwidth, high definition video conferencing, domain name services, webhosting, email and messaging, ftp, caching, storage, security and training support. In addition to these, NgREN recognizes that member institutions also possess services that users in other institutions may require. It will therefore establish an identity federation as a service layer to allow users in all participating institutions, access to all services. Further details on this subject are available on the relevant pages of the NgREN website, http://www.ngren.edu.ng.
Question 3: Will the member institutions pay multiple charges for services rendered, considering the Federal Government funds NgREN?
Answer 3: There is no plan to adopt a multiple charge regime to support NgREN operations. As agreed in the course of many stakeholder consultation sessions leading to the establishment of NgREN however, member institutions are expected to pay subscription fees that will be used to offset the costs of connectivity and services provided. It is to be noted that the initial funding is limited only to the 27 older federal universities. The costs of network expansion to bring in additional member institutions has to be sourced and even after that, the connectivity and the services will have to be sustained by the members or any party acting in their place. For this reason, the NgREN Board will have to operate a subscription-based service provision regime to ensure that services required by members are provided on a very competitive basis (using economies of scale) and are sustained by members.
Question 4: Why start with only 27 federal universities?
Answer 4: The 27 Federal Universities are the “Founding Members” of NgREN that were brought together under the auspices of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities to agree to its establishment. Initial funding to establish the core, deploy last-mile, set up the Network Management Centre in Abuja, and provide a high definition video conferencing service, came from the World Bank-assisted STEP-B Project which supported only federally-owned institutions. As implied in the name, NgREN will eventually have all education and research institutions in the country as members.
Question 5: When are the state universities and other tertiary institutions going to key into NgREN?
Answer 5: State Universities and indeed all other potential members of the NgREN will be connected in the subsequent phases as arrangements are concluded to make funding available to take care of lastmile connectivity costs. However, each institution wishing to join may have to satisfy certain requirements as will be approved by the NgREN Governing Board, including among other things, minimum campus connectivity requirements.
Question 6: Considering the implementation level, not all the institutions are on the same stage of network deployment. Are there any plans to compel Chief Executive Officers of Universities to upgrade their infrastructure?
Answer 6: There are no plans to compel any Chief Executive Officer of potential REN member institutions, but to set out minimum infrastructure required to join the network. NgREN will periodically carry out network audit and advice each university on how to improve its network infrastructure.
Question 7: How much Bandwidth would each institution get from NgREN?
Answer 7: Initially, each member will have a lastmile capacity of STM-1 with a pooled STM-3 Internet Bandwidth to be accessed by all. The network has the potential and plans to scale up to higher capacities depending on a needs assessment (usage profiles) and availability of funds. On the Internet bandwidth capacity, it is to be noted that the REN has connectivity to the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria intended to keep local traffic truly local so that actual Internet bandwidth consumption can be reserved for activities that should necessarily be international.
Question 8: Why the allocation of 155mbps?
Answer 8: The initial capacity on the tails is STM-1. This size was determined by funds limitation only and there is an expansion plan to increase it as soon as additional funds are secured from other sources.
Question 9: Does the platform allow for expansion and how will an institution like the
National Open University Connect to her campuses all over the country?
Answer 9: Yes, the Network allows for expansion both in membership and bandwidth capacity to any member. A member institution can connect to its campuses just like it will connect to other institutions on the network.NgREN can provide technical support in the design of such institutional networks as may be required.
Question 10: If the bandwidth is not enough, which response route, complaint route and backups are to be used?
Answer 10: A complete set of procedures for support/help desk will be established with clear escalation paths for the guidance of members. On bandwidth needs, each member can increase its bandwidth by requesting more from NgREN for additional fees.
Question 11: What happens when this present subscription by NgREN expires?
Answer 11: NgREN naturally belongs to the member institutions. Subsequent subscriptions beyond the present one are to be funded by the institutions themselves through annual subscription fees. The economies of scale that the REN possesses will ensure that such fees are insignificant proportions of what the institutions currently pay for the same services outside the NgREN.
Question 12: Are the network providers NgREN is relying upon for service delivery still reliable? What are the consequences of network failure?
Answer 12: The Network Providers are as reliable as possible. Redundancy of bandwidth from more than one provider has been built into the design to reduce downtime due to network failure from any operator. In addition, the providers use the same infrastructure to support all their commercial voice, video and data services and are always investing in capacity to cope with increasing demand for the broad spectrum of patrons. As the most important customer to these providers (in terms of bandwidth size) NgREN does occupy a pride of place that will allow for the insistence on an SLA that minimizes downtimes to the barest minimum.
Question 13: Why is IPv4 still being used instead of IPv6 only?
Answer 13: Although IPv6 is replacing IPv4, many services and servers globally are running on IPv4. A recent survey at the end of 2012 indicated that only about 1% of Internet traffic was IPv6-based. Thus, the dominance of IPv4is likely to remain for some years to come. NgREN will therefore continue to run IPv4 in order to access those services but will introduceIPv6 in a dual-stack model.
Question 14: Why are the main MPLS core locations not spread across the 6 geo-political zones, instead of four locations?
Answer 14: This is both a function of funding and available service providers’ infrastructure. It is an integral part of NgREN expansion plans that with increased funding and as more members come on board, other core locations will be established.
Question 15: Is NgREN going to lay Fibre Optics in the future?
Answer 15: NgREN will consider owning national fiber in the future. In the meantime, the priority is to establish national backbone connectivity based on leased fiber capacity even though NgREN owns all the Provider, Provider Edge and Customer Premise Edge network devices. Phased deployment of REN-owned fiber is starting with the intra-University, inter-campus fiber connectivity to link various campuses of some Universities to their main data centres.
Question 16: What is the UnICC project and how does it relate to the NgREN?
Answer 16: UnICC stands for “University Inter-Campus Connectivity” project. It is a complement to the NgREN project being funded by the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology through the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). UnICC seeks to interconnect Medical Colleges and their associated Teaching Hospitals to the data centres of the Universities, often located on the main campuses. The fibre-based project will also build and/or upgrade data centres in the medical colleges and the teaching hospitals and provide them with high definition video conferencing service. In addition to complementing NgREN, UnICC is intended as the core of what will eventually become Nigeria’s telemedicine infrastructure.
Question 17. What is the structure of the NgREN management?
Answer 17. The NgREN has a General Assembly which includes all member; Institutions, Individual members e.t.c. The Board, duly appointment by the General Assembly and Management
Question 18. Where is the Network Management Center?
Answer 18. The Network Management Center is within the National Universities Commission Complex, Abuja