EUROPE: Research network extended

The European Commission has connected researchers in the South Caucasus nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to Europe's largest computer network for research and education. The EU-funded initiative links the countries and connects them to the high bandwidth, pan-European GÉANT network which already serves 30 million researchers.

The new connection would enable researchers and students to collaborate with their European peers in 40 countries by sharing large amounts of data over the network, the commission announced last week.

"The commission wants to direct the internet's evolution to make sure there are no white spots in global research," said EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding.

"By investing EUR1.4 million (US$1.8 million) funding in this project, we will bridge a major digital divide by connecting scientists from the Black Sea region to the global research community, providing high speed internet connections to universities and research centres in the South Caucasus. I expect better collaboration with GÉANT's 4,000 EU research institutions will lead to better research and better results in Europe and beyond."

The connection will raise internet connection speeds for 377 universities and research institutes in the South Caucasus from a minimum of 34 to 100 Megabits per second, allowing the deployment of advanced services across the region such as more internet addresses through the latest internet protocol and multicasting,

The European Commission expects the development to enable a far greater level of collaboration between researchers and scientists in the region, increasing the scope of research and education both in the South Caucasus and in Europe itself.

The commission's Black Sea interconnection project replaces the NATO-funded "Virtual Silk Highway" which provided satellite connections for high speed and high capacity internet connection to GÉANT for the South Caucasus and Central Asia. But the system was unable to meet the ever-increasing connectivity and collaboration needs of the scientific community.