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New research network to provide high-speed connectivity for Central Asiap

30 June 2009 | Cambridge, UK

Central Asian researchers and students will be able to better collaborate with their colleagues across the world, through a new EU-funded high-speed data-communications network. The CAREN (Central Asia Research and Education Network) project will provide high-capacity Internet links for the first time to one million students and researchers in over 200 universities and research institutions along the ancient Silk Road in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to each other and to the global research community through connection to the high-speed pan-European GÉANT network.

Progress on the network will be discussed at two high profile meetings to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan between 30 June and 2 July 2009. The CAREN Executive Committee meeting of the CAREN project partners will be followed by the first CAREN Steering Group meeting. Chaired by the European Commission, attendees to the Steering Group meeting include senior ministerial officials from the central Asian partner countries, demonstrating the importance of this project to the region and beyond.

Existing and future projects that will benefit from CAREN span areas such as environmental monitoring, radio astronomy, telemedicine, the digitalisation of cultural heritage, e-learning, palaeontology and mineral extraction.

Scheduled to come into operation in early 2010, CAREN is currently tendering for a terrestrial broadband network that will replace current links from the satellite-based, NATO-funded Virtual Silk Highway project. As it is fibre-based, CAREN will deliver improved connectivity through a more stable, cost-effective network infrastructure.

The network is co-funded by the European Commission, which is providing initial financial support of € 5 million until the end of 2011, and by the Central Asian countries. The project will be operated and managed by research networking organisation DANTE in conjunction with the National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) of the countries involved.

“The CAREN network is a unique project that will better connect the researchers of the EU and Central Asia. We very much welcome this initiative and the benefits it will bring,” said Ambassador Norbert Jousten, Head of Delegation of the European Comission.

CAREN builds on existing EC-led research network programmes, including the Black Sea Initiative (BSI), which connects the neighbouring South Caucasus to Europe, the TEIN3 network which covers Eastern Asia and the ORIENT link to China. This is part of an overall strategy to connect researchers across the globe, increasing collaboration and stimulating development through high-speed network infrastructures.

“Today’s research community needs to be truly global if it is to solve the challenges mankind faces,” said Dai Davies, General Manager of DANTE. “The creation of the CAREN network is a natural progression in fostering worldwide collaboration. We welcome the addition of the skills and knowledge of central Asian researchers to the global research community.”

“Local researchers are extremely positive about the advantages that the new CAREN network will bring,” said Professor Askar Kutanov, Regional CAREN Project Coordinator. “By recreating the links of the old Silk Road between East and West we will be able to benefit from increased collaboration and the ability to co-operate with our colleagues across the globe.”

The CAREN project aims to establish a high-capacity regional research and education network in central Asia. Covering one million students and researchers in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan it underpins regional and international collaboration through links to the pan-European GÉANT network. Funded by the EU and central Asian National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) the project began on 1 January 2009. It is scheduled to initially run to 2011, with the network going live in early 2010. It is run by international research networking organisation DANTE, in collaboration with the EU and local NRENs.

DANTE is a non-profit organisation, coordinator of large-scale projects co-funded by the European Commission, and working in partnership with European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) to plan, build and operate advanced networks for research and education. Established in 1993, DANTE has been fundamental to the success of pan-European research and education networking. DANTE has built and operates GÉANT, which provides the data communications infrastructure essential to the success of many research projects in Europe. DANTE is involved in worldwide initiatives to interconnect countries in the other regions to one another and to GÉANT. DANTE currently manages projects focussed on the Mediterranean, Latin American and Asia-Pacific regions through the EUMEDCONNECT2, ALICE2 and TEIN3 projects, respectively.

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For further information please contact:
Helga Spitaler
DANTE +44(0)1223 371 342

Chris Measures/Clodagh Boyle/Matthew Watson
Speed Communications (on behalf of DANTE)
+44(0)20 7842 3200