How REANNZ differs from commodity internet service providers

9 ways that REANNZ differs from a commodity internet service provider

REANNZ delivers New Zealand’s high-performance national research and education network (NREN) to support scientists, researchers and innovators. Together with the global network of over 120+ NRENs, we enable collaboration between researchers worldwide and facilitate large data transfers between organisations through their local NREN.

But is a national research and education network like REANNZ, the same as a commodity internet service provider?  And if not, then how do they differ?

1. Designed to meet the specialist needs of scientists, researchers and innovators 

REANNZ meets the unique needs of New Zealand’s research and education sector, which differ considerably from standard business or residential users. A specialist network platform is an important research tool and a signal of a country’s science capability.  It’s a pre-requisite for inclusion in high value, international science and research collaborations.

Unique features include:

  • the ability to quickly transfer huge datasets:  hundreds of gigabytes, terabytes and petabytes are common.

  • zero tolerance for packet loss, which is catastrophic for long distance data transfers.

  • providing for bursty and unpredictable science and research traffic that are unlike enterprise or residential use patterns

  • being highly collaborative and international: research and science involves multiple users across multiple institutions, nationally and internationally, often sharing expensive infrastructure.

  • supporting complex and customised needs: researchers use bespoke applications and protocols to move larger files.

2. Member of a global research and education platform

REANNZ is part of a global community of 120+ similar research networks, which work together to enable research collaboration by facilitating massive data flows. Through REANNZ and this global network, Kiwi researchers gain access to a worldwide, multi-billion dollar infrastructure dedicated to the pursuit of science, research and education. 

It is in effect a private network system which provides an additional layer of support and security for users.  Our long-established working relationships mean we work directly with other NRENs to facilitate large data transfers. Our shared practices ensure that large research transfers are properly managed through the system, and not misidentified as a DDoS attack or malicious activity. 

3. REANNZ network is engineered to manage big data and long distance transfers

REANNZ’s network is specifically built to meet the needs of the research sector.  It seamlessly manages critical and very large data transfers without impacting other users.

  • In June, REANNZ effortlessly transferred 700TB of science data at 19 Gbps from Auckland to Wellington across several days and during peak periods with minimal, if any, impact on other users.

  • An Otago University genomics researcher had taken 3 weeks to download 600 files at 10-12GB each from the European Genome-Phenome archive in Barcelona, Spain. Using REANNZ, it took less than 2 days to download the remaining 30TB of data over 18,941 km across the infrastructure of multiple NRENs.  


4. Specialist research and education networks outperform commercial providers 

Tests carried out last year showed REANNZ outperformed commercially available Internet service providers for large research data transfers. 

  • “A dedicated transfer node attached to a 10Gbps research connection was shown to transfer this data to Australia at almost 100% efficiency in around 1 day, our testing showed that a transfer via a commercial provider could take almost 4 times longer.”

  • “A test to Europe showed even more impact at 12 times longer. Research connections to data transfer nodes in the research community above 10Gbps to 40Gbps or even 100Gbps are now within reach, widening this gap even more into the future.”

  • “… we believe these issues speak to a systemic problem caused by the commercial realities of commodity service providers and that it is not commercially viable to support the research community appropriately through a commoditised approach.”

The graph below shows the throughput of a commercial provider sending a large research-grade dataset from New Zealand to Europe. Data transfer rates only reached 2.7 Gbps before failing.

In comparison, this graph below shows REANNZ successfully sending a large research-grade dataset from New Zealand to Europe. The data transfer rate immediately jumps to 9.98Gbps and achieved 99.9997% delivery over 6 hours, with 7 errors occurring on the test hardware, not on the network


Source: REANNZ performance testing report 2017.

5.  Designed for bursty science & research traffic

Research traffic is unpredictable and bursty – transfers may occur regularly in real time, spasmodically over days, weeks or months, or as one-offs, depending on the project. REANNZ forecasts and maintains a spare headroom of bandwidth across our network to support high-volume data transfer on demand - no matter the time of day or current demands on the network. This headroom also ensures the network can continue operating at full capacity, even during a failure, by routing traffic through alternate paths.

6.     REANNZ delivers a zero-loss network

REANNZ networks require a zero packet loss rate. Packet loss occurs when one or more packets of data travelling across a computer network fail to reach their destination. Any packet loss can have catastrophic impact on the performance of a long-distance, high-speed transfer. REANNZ continuously monitors and reports the loss rates on our network. Across our backbone in June 2018 we carried over 58 trillion packets, achieving a 99.9999999% (9 nines) packet delivery rate or <0.0000001% loss.

In comparison, packet loss rates across commercial providers would render any large data transfer over distance practically impossible. REANNZ alerts engineers if any loss is ever detected on our backbone, which would be implausible on networks where residential, enterprise and wholesale services are combined on one infrastructure.

7.  Support accelerating growth in cutting-edge science

Both in New Zealand and globally there is a rapid growth in data-intensive science and research, driven by disciplines including climate research, genomics and radio astronomy.

REANNZ supports and connects major science initiatives, including the National Science Challenges, Centres of Research Excellence, NeSi's HPC facilities, and the Australian Synchrotron. REANNZ will also support the government’s $57 million investment towards science cooperation with Singapore. These initiatives are driving a 61% year-on-year increase in data traffic shared by users with international research partners.

To support accelerating growth globally, the NREN community is making major long-term investments. Through REANNZ, New Zealand scientists and researchers have access to and can leverage off this significant global infrastructure.

8.  Strategic managers of New Zealand’s research and education system 

We provide a coordination and leadership role on behalf of the sector, domestically and globally. 


  • has a future focus to ensure users have what they will need, when they need it.

  • represents New Zealand's interests in international forums on common standards, protocols, tools and high-volume data transfer capability.

  • manages supply arrangements on the community’s behalf.

  • shares knowledge and international best practice.


9.  REANNZ tailored packages of products and services

REANNZ brings together products and services to meet the needs of the sector. We are a purchaser of wholesale telecommunications services, which we then operate and manage in a way that allows the network to meet the specialist needs of New Zealand’s Research & Education community.

Our products and services include:

  • National network access at 100Gbps, 10 Gbps and 1 Gbps

  • Unrestricted National Research and Education,  member to member network

  • Unrestricted International Research and Education Network

  • eduroamTM

  • internet and WAN services – added at request of users to simplify their infrastructure

  • Cloud connection (to public and private cloud and IaaS providers)

  • 24/7 specialist data transfer and network support

  • Professional engineering services

  • Member portal

  • Tuakiri trust and identity ecosystem.

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