National Research and Education (R&E) Networks (also known as NRENs) together provide critical communications infrastructure for universities and research institutes worldwide. This global network of interconnected networks is boosting international capacity where needed as part of the global rapid response to the recent novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
During the past few weeks, usage of international R&E networks to North Asia and other places around the world has grown significantly as universities turn to delivering more courses online for hundreds of thousands of international students impacted by the disease and associated travel restrictions.
R&E networks are moving to procure additional capacity on existing international links and server farms ahead of demand to ensure universities continue to have the bandwidth and services they need to meet the growing demand for video conferencing, remote learning and personal communications.
There are more than 120 interconnected R&E networks traversing the globe, with variances in speed, accessibility and capacity from country to county.
In recent years, these networks have been working together on the Global Research and Education Network initiative, known as the GREN, to better align resources and make the interconnections more efficient for science collaborations and education globally.
Projects under the GREN initiative include, Indigo, connecting Sydney to Perth and Singapore, CAE-1, connecting Singapore to London, JGA, connecting Australia, Guam and Japan, AER, connecting Asia and Europe, ANA, connecting North America to Europe, APR, connecting North America to Asia, and AmLight-SACS, connecting Brazil to North America. These projects, along with other R&E partnerships, such as one that has seen eduroam, the global roaming WIFI access service, expand globally, ensure universities and research institutes across six continents have the robust, resilient and low latency connectivity they need now and into the future.
The networking infrastructure provided by the global network of R&E networks is not only supporting teaching and learning, but is also playing a key role in helping researchers worldwide participate in global collaborations that are undertaking new research around the rapidly evolving coronavirus COVID-19 disease.