Europe's high-speed research network, Géant, is to be linked up with similar networks worldwide, the European Union announced on Friday.
Géant, which the EU claims is "the world's largest multi-gigabit computer network dedicated to research and education", already links the national research and education networks of 34 European countries — the UK's network, Janet, being one of them — using multiple 10Gbps wavelengths. It also has gigabit links to North America and Japan.
However, in its upcoming third phase of development — the first began in 2000 and the second in 2004 — Géant will now also be linked with regional research networks in the Balkans, the Black Sea and Mediterranean regions, Asia, Southern Africa and Latin America.
"With Géant's massive data-processing capacity, Europe can now bring together the best minds in the world to tackle the challenges that we all face," said the EU's commissioner for information society and media, Viviane Reding, on Friday. "Europe's financial investment in a high-speed backbone network for research — around €23m [£18m] per year — benefits Europe's competitiveness, but is also boosting collaboration between researchers on a global scale."
Reding added that the newly announced further investment of €90m [£70m] up to 2012 showed the EU was "committed to staying at the forefront of the internet's evolution, and to making scientific collaboration seamless and straightforward".
Géant already links up around 30 million users in over 3,500 universities and research centres. It has proved useful in aiding collaboration among researchers in high-profile projects such as Expres, the EU radio astronomy project which links the world's largest radio telescopes in South Africa, China, Europe and Chile to a supercomputer in the Netherlands.
The Large Hadron Collider at Cern — the single largest scientific experiment ever conducted — also gets its global communications support from Géant. When it is switched on later this year, the collider will use the network to send 15 million gigabytes of data per year to 5,000 scientists working in 500 institutions around the world.