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Brussels, 17 March 2009

One small step for GÉANT, one giant leap for the Black Sea region

The Commission today increased the internet capacity available across the Black Sea to researchers in the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) by switching on the region's largest computer network for research and education. The EU-funded regional research and education network Black Sea Interconnection (BSI) links the South Caucasus countries and connects them to the high bandwidth, world-leading, pan-European GÉANT network that already serves 30 million researchers. This new connection will enable researchers and students to collaborate with their European peers in 40 countries, by sharing large amounts of data over the network.

The Commission wants to direct the internet's evolution to make sure there are no white spots in global research,” said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. “By investing €1.4 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 GEANT's 4,000 EU research institutions will lead to better research and better results in Europe and beyond.”

“This major project underpins a number of key aims for EU policy within the Black Sea region,” Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy added. “It implements Black Sea Synergy in the crucial sector of information society, providing a collaborative infrastructure that not only supports research but also the future introduction of new online services such as e-Government, e-Business, e-Health and the use of information and communication technology in education benefiting society as a whole.”

Further reactions from politicians in the region and NATO on this big step for the region are available in the Commission's Information Society newsroom.

Cutting edge research depends on large databanks and massive processing power to deal with problems such as forecasting earthquakes, decoding genetic information, simulating climate change and energy demands or predicting and managing the spread of epidemics. The Black Sea Interconnection project links the countries of the South Caucasus to the pan-European GÉANT (MEMO/09/110) academic internet at previously unavailable speeds (from a minimum of 34 to 100 Megabits per second, Mbps). These speeds allow the deployment of advanced services across the region, such as more internet addresses through the latest internet protocol (IPv6, a potentially unlimited source of internet addresses (IP/08/803) and multicast (which allows more effective streaming of videos, for example), which are innovative features of high speed research networking across the world.

The high speed connections will enable a far greater level of collaboration between researchers and scientists in the region. Connecting 377 universities and research institutes in the South Caucasus to the pan-European Geant2 network, which already connects 34 national research networks worldwide, will increase the scope of research and education both in the South Caucasus and in Europe itself. It also promises to impact daily life in the region by improving access to and quality of healthcare such as allowing doctors to remotely diagnose conditions and prescribe treatment to poor and isolated rural communities (for more examples, MEMO/09/110).

The Black Sea Interconnection project will run for 24-months from 17 March 2008.


The Black Sea Interconnection project stems from earlier EC-funded project “Porta Optica” and replaces the NATO-funded “Virtual Silk Highway” which provided satellite connections to provide high speed and high capacity internet connection to GÉANT for the South Caucasus and Central Asia, but was unable to meet the ever increasing connectivity and collaboration needs of the scientific community.

The project is coordinated by the Turkish National Research and Education Network, TÜBİTAK-ULAKBİM – the largest project coordinated by Turkey in the Commission's overall FP7 Research Programme. It involves the South Caucasian National Research and Education Networks: GRENA (Georgia), AzRENA (Azerbaijan) and ASNET-AM/ARENA (Armenia).

Launched in 2000, GÉANT went global last February with high speed links to Asia, Southern Africa and Latin America (IP/08/354), and has recently connected Pakistan to the global research community (IP/08/1590) and Europe's fusion research community with its supercomputing centres (IP/09/117). The European Commission’s current contribution to GÉANT is funded by the EU's overall research from 2004-2009, amounting to €93 million over 58 months.


Further reaction:

A GÉANT press pack is available at:


GÉANT connectivity across Europe

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

GÉANT's Global Reach

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

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