Networking reseller Pervasive has begun installation of a 10 Gigabit Ethernet network at Cardiff University.
The £4.5m deal will also see Pervasive upgrading the Foundry 10G switches to 40 Gigabit Ethernet as part of a five-year programme on the site.
"The contract also covers the University of Wales College of Medicine," said Jamie Pitchforth, strategic account director at Pervasive.
"At some point in the future, the two organisations may merge, so the infrastructure we provided had to enable the two to do that."
Andy Palmer, managing director of Foundry UK, said: "Ten Gigabit Ethernet has begun to take off. There is a circular driver in this.
"Installing 10G pulls through Gigabit Ethernet, which brings through 10G to cope with extra traffic. Enterprises are looking at 10G seriously."
The new network backbone, comprising eight BigIron 15,000 switches, will carry voice, video and data traffic, and will also be used as part of the University's effort to provide grid computing between educational institutions. The chassis will be upgraded to 40 Gigabit Ethernet at a later date.
"This shows how important public sector deals are to the industry," said Rachel Power, analyst at Canalys. "The government is spending to make sure the public sector is wired up."
Universities in the UK are energetic adopters of 10G equipment. This is at least partly because of EU funding. Warwick and Strathclyde Universities have bought systems from Extreme Networks and Foundry respectively.
"Universities are having to get very smart and commercial; the government has freed them from a lot of constraints," said Palmer.
"That generates a need for good infrastructure. Also, funding for new network infrastructure comes around every five years."
Separately, Foundry will announce a wireless LAN offering this week.
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