BreastCheck gets supportive partner in AirSpeed Telecom

BreastCheck, the National Breast Screening Programme, is one of the busiest health services in Ireland. Governed by the NCSS, it provides women aged 50 to 64 with a free mammogram every two years, aiming to reduce deaths from breast cancer through early detection and treatment. Meeting the growing demands on the service hasn't been easy, but with AirSpeed Telecom, the NCSS has found a reliable partner for one of the most vital aspects of the programme: protecting the security, confidentiality and availability of the critical data gathered by BreastCheck.

The expansion of BreastCheck has been considerable. During 2006 BreastCheck provided free breast screening to a record 63,271 women and those figures have continued to climb as the service expanded. In December 2007 BreastCheck was introduced to the South and West of the country, effectively providing a national screening service to women for the first time.

This expansion, together with the introduction of its brand-new digital mammography service introduced in 2008, meant the NCSS would now see a tremendous data load on its wide area network. It had to take action and decided to upgrade its WAN, including the implementation of highly resilient backup connectivity.

AirSpeed Telecom: the perfect partner for resiliency

The role to be played by the backup network would be vital. The new fibre-based WAN would deliver unprecedented bandwidth for the NCSS, with 1Gbps between its Dublin sites and 100Mbps out to its remote locations. Such bandwidth was essential, as the new digital service meant high demands for bandwidth. The backup network for BreastCheck would need to be capable of delivering critical services, but over a non-fibre route to provide resilience. The NCSS was keen to use wireless, and consulted with its systems integrator, Bootstrap Ltd, in considering its options. Bootstrap Ltd, Ireland’s longest established independent network integration company and a long-standing Cisco Silver Certified Partner, provides and supports the NCSS with LAN and WAN infrastructure equipment. It recommended AirSpeed Telecom. The two companies already have a strong working relationship and would work together to upgrade the NCSS backbone network infrastructure with wireless backup connectivity.

"We wanted a wireless-based network, and we decided that given our previous history with AirSpeed Telecom and their expertise in the wireless area, they were best positioned to provide us with a reliable backup solution," explains Gillian Connor, Head of ICT Services with the NCSS.

AirSpeed Telecom has provided a dedicated 5Mbps circuit between each of the remote locations and 100Mbps into the NCSS's Central Office in Dublin

All connections are within AirSpeed Telecom's own network and offer dedicated bandwidth over ComReg licensed point-to-multipoint and point-to-point links. This assures high quality and non-interference, a key concern for the NCSS. "Due to the confidential nature of the data we transfer, we require a controlled secure environment on our networks," Gillian noted. "All networks must comply with licence and frequency requirements, which AirSpeed Telecom does."

The links are scalable, uncontended connections that can be remotely configured for additional capacity: Point-to-multipoint connections can support up to 90Mbps, while point-to-point can support up to 155Mbps. This provides important flexibility for NCSS if it should require additional bandwidth to facilitate mission critical services in the future.

Gillian said the reliability of the network gives important business assurance to the NCSS.

"If our major links go down we need the work flow to continue uninterrupted," she noted. "The wireless backup solution from AirSpeed Telecom provides that seamless consistency we require." Looking ahead, Gillian said the NCSS plans to continue to exploit the best technology that's available on the market in order to support and enhance the services it offers. "You've got to be innovative in terms of what technology you use and make sure you assess everything that's out there."