Building on the work already accomplished in RACE, the BOURBON project seeks to address the issue of providing cost-effective, scaleable access to ATM-based advanced services for SMEs in the wider context of Europe and the Information Society. There are two parallel streams running through the project, one Technology focused, the other User focused. It is within the convergence of these two streams that the project will demonstrate scaleable solutions that will allow SME-based users access to services and applications in advanced communications.
The overall goal is to define a network and service architecture that takes account of what is already present in terms of networks, hardware and software today, which will then support the move to higher bandwidth services whilst always maintaining a realistic view on what is required by SMEs and ultimately what they can afford.
SMEs represent a significant sector of the economy, providing employment, contributing to national production and, very often, representing an important source of innovation. BOURBON plans to integrate, in a scaleable way, networks and telecommunications services such that an SME may connect with a certain terminal at a certain bandwidth for a certain cost, and with that utilise a needed subset of services in an integrated manner. The contention is that well-managed and efficient use of such technologies and services will allow SMEs, disadvantaged by resources or (in the case of rural areas) location, to compete on a more equal basis with larger or more centrally located companies in the context of the Single European Market.
In 1997 and beyond, the following activities of BOURBON are of prime importance:
Continued active participation in the Chains and domains and dissemination activities,
Continued definition of the real SMEs needs and requirements including cost structure analysis for the introduction of broadband networking,
Creating awareness for the benefits of broadband networking in the regions with national and International Workshops,
Implementation of the demonstrators in the regions,
Carry out field trials in the regions, and Perform evaluation of project and field trials.
Main contributions to the programme objectives:
Trials and evaluation of telepresence, augmented reality and other multimedia services in the architecture/construction sector
Contribution to the programme
Demonstrates the improvement in speed, efficiency and quality of construction projects by the application of advanced multimedia technologies
Organisations in eleven of the fifteen Member States of the European Union are coming together for this project. In nine of the States the organisations will employ operating testbeds - the infrastructure for which is already in place, or planned for, outside the scope of the project - in order to define ways and means of demonstrating how services already developed to support SMEs may be extended and augmented to allow such companies access to advanced communications in a pragmatic and cost-effective way. Within the two remaining States, focus groups to explore issues and information transfer will be carried out, with the possibility of similar testbed models if this becomes available in the lifetime of the project.
In detail, the testbeds can be divided into three groups. Group A consists of five countries already serving SMEs with ATM-based services; these are Ireland (using the Irish National Host based in Sligo), Finland (a public ATM service in the province of Joensuu), France (an experimental ATM network in the département of Alpes-Maritimes), Austria (the Salzburg Data Highway) and Germany (the Berlin ATM testbed). Group B consists of four countries in which advanced PSTN/ISDN based architectures can be employed; these are the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and Greece. The countries of Group C, which are at an exploratory stage, are Belgium and Spain. It is expected that certain testbed regions will move up through the groups as the project progresses.
SMEs are very sensitive to the costs of services offered. That was a result of RACE BRITEUR project carried out in 1994-1995. Relative costs of network services are usually higher to the SMEs than to residential users or big corporations. Therefore cost structure of the services are being studied and analysed in BOURBON in order to evaluate, develop and offer scaleable network services to the SMEs. Thus, scaleable access is very important to the objectives of the project since Bourbon is determining how new technology is being adapted by SMEs and since the project is studying and implementing Interworking capabilities. The Cost structure analysis and reference model of ATM and non-ATM testbeds can be conducted. The BOURBON methodology is following market place approach which is a stepped or scaleable approach to the services.
The BOURBON project and especially testbeds of BOURBON in different countries offers a great opportunity to develop and study cost structure of scaleable SME services in Europe and produce cost analysis for the services. SMEs can benefit from the cost structure information from this project. Also operators and service providers can develop services that fit to the SME needs economically and can produce services cost efficiently.
Summary of Trial
BOURBON is carrying out a number of parallel trials with participating SMEs in the Group A and B regions specified above. It seeks to expand on the work done in other EU projects in the RACE and ORA programmes (and particularly the RACE project BRITEUR) regarding the exploitation of advanced communications services by SMEs. The focus throughout will be user-led and pragmatic in economic terms.
The initial aim of the field trial activities of the project is to specify trials on each of the testbeds which will reflect the real business needs of the SMEs who reside on these testbeds. The field trials will follow on from the SME user requirements work. Interconnection scenarios of the testbed sites are being researched. The project will investigate the feasibility of utilising satellite based communications and it will address the wider implications for SMEs in terms of interconnection of testbeds through other ACTS projects or National Host initiatives such as co-ordination with ACTS JAMES project.
The BOURBON project will also trial enhanced ATM access facilities for SMEs over existing telecommunications facility. In particular, ATM access over copper subscriber lines with HDSL transmission technology will be trialed.
A key goal of the Technical stream of the work will be to demonstrate the advanced features of ATM-based networking which are only now becoming standardised. This includes the incorporation of switched ATM applications. It is therefore planned to utilise the National Host network infrastructure, supporting the Fourth Framework initiative, to facilitate the demonstration of inter-European SME-based application trials. The project will seek to explore the cost/benefit trade-offs inherent within the communications sector, with particular emphasis on the needs of SMEs both urban and rural. A further important consideration is how, in the short term, to effect the cost-effective interconnection of ATM testbeds in several European regions for the demonstration of advanced services. SME Open Networking means connectivity through several types of public or private networks and between different types of SME in-house networks. Access to ATM networks through narrowband "feeder" networks like ISDN, frame relay and router networks should be supported, when appropriate. With these "narrowband " access technologies, SMEs can be provided in some cases with up to 10 Mbps bandwidth in the broadband network.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts