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CAREN allows seamless collaboration between Central Asia and Europe, providing the region with a gateway to global research collaboration.


What is CAREN?
The Central Asia Research and Education Network (CAREN) sets out to create a regional research and education data-communications network interconnecting research centres and educational institutions throughout Central Asia. CAREN will link over half a million users at 300 universities and research institutes and provides access to the European and global research communities via its interconnection to the pan-European GÉANT backbone.

CAREN builds on the achievements of the NATO-funded Silk project, which pioneered research networking in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Originally deploying satellite technology, it more recently started upgrading to fibre optics. Taking advantage of the developing telecommunications market in the region, CAREN set out to deliver improved connectivity with more stable and higher capacity international connections.

The project was launched in 2009 with its first phase successfully completed in October 2013. The second phase (CAREN2) terminated in August 2015 with the partner countries being temporarily disconnected whilst terms and conditions for the follow-up phase being negotiated with the EC. The project resumed in 2016, initially connecting Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan where bilateral financing agreements between the countries and the EC had been signed. 

Who manages CAREN?
The project is operated and managed by the research networking organisation GÉANT, in conjunction with the National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) of the countries involved.

GÉANT is a non-profit organisation founded by the European NRENs implementing the GÉANT network in Europe. It has unique experience in establishing research and education networks, managing large-scale connections and capacity-building for NRENs. For this reason, and thanks to its non-profit character as well as public background, it is also involved in developing research and education networks in other regions across the globe.

In Asia, GÉANT​ has successfully managed to set up the TEIN network which provides a dedicated h​igh-capacity Internet for over 55 million users.

How is CAREN funded?
The initial EC co-funding to the 3rd project phase (CAREN) amounts to €4.5m up to 2019. CAREN forms part of the EC’s Central Asia Strategy and plans for long term funding support of the project are being prepared.

Why is the EU supporting research and education networking in Central Asia?
The development of a high-capacity, yet cost-effective data-communications infrastructure for research and education across Central Asia is high on the EU agenda. Research and education networks provide a reliable, high-capacity Internet connection among academic institutions at affordable prices. This enables them to collect and exchange enormous amounts of data with geographically distributed partners and collaborate effectively on a global scale.

Supporting the creation and functioning of such networks, the EC support enables the academic institutions in less developed countries to get connected to the outside world and exchange information with more advanced partners.

This is a huge step in decreasing the digital divide between the developing and developed world. With access to modern technologies, the education and research sectors get modernised and drive the change in other sectors which, in turn, contributes to increased economic development, opens up societies in developing countries and fosters democracy.

What is the CAREN network used for?
CAREN gives around half a million researchers in the region access to the large databases and massive processing power needed for cutting-edge research that will directly benefit the region. For example, in this earthquake-prone zone, at the intersection of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, high-speed CAREN links will allow scientists to access and exchange seismic data from monitoring stations in near-real time. This will improve hazard assessment and effective disaster risk management for example by linking researchers at the Central Asian Institute for Applied Geosciences (CAIAG) in Kyrgyzstan with their colleagues at the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).

Various other areas benefit from the improved internet capacity, including tele-medicine initiatives in Tajikistan, planned textile research collaborations between the London College of Fashion and partner colleges in Tashkent, and environmental monitoring of the Issyk-Kul basin between the Kyrgyz Institute of Physics and partner institutes in Germany and the USA. Various distance learning projects are already underway, such as in Turkmenistan in collaboration with the Technical University of Hamburg and the Autonomous University of Barcelona.