"The new network will improve on-line access for researchers and this is vital for enabling the full participation and integration of the Balkan research community in the European Research Area (ERA)", stated EU Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society, Erkki Liikanen, on 9 January.
Indeed, the SEEREN project has provided more than just technical connectivity. Bridging the digital divide that still separates the Balkans from the rest of Europe was one of the key aims of the project, and the consortium have been active in encouraging European Union Member States to work together with researchers from South East Europe.
The extension sees the inclusion of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia and Montenegro in the GEANT network, which now connects 43 countries and over 3500 institutions.
GEANT is constantly upgraded, and currently has a total trunk capacity of 185 gigabits (Gbit) per second. This is more than twice as powerful as other research networks. The network also provides a 14,5 Gbit per second connection to North America and Japan, while further links to the Latin American and Mediterranean regions will be operational shortly.