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New Delhi, Feb 15  Over 55 million researchers, academics and students across the Asia-Pacific, including India, are set to benefit from a new phase of dedicated research and education (R&E) networking – Asi@connect, co-funded by the European Union (EU), which was inaugurated at the Asia Pacific Advanced Network 43 (APAN43) meeting here.

The Asia@connect aims to seamlessly extend and build on the successful Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN) initiative, an EU press release said here on Tuesday.

Asi@Connect is the successor project to TEIN4, the most recent phase of the TEIN initiative. It currently supports 24 countries/economies by providing a regional high-capacity internet backbone for R&E collaborations within the Asia-Pacific, and its interconnection to the pan-European GÉANT network, and with other parts of the world.

Asi@Connect corresponds closely to the core project objective of “digital connectivity” and has linkages to both India’s flagship project “Digital India “and the EU’s “Digital Single Market”, it said.

With a substantial five-year EU co-funding commitment of euro 20 million until 2021, Asi@Connect is designed to support the countries across the region to develop and deploy new network services, facilitate human capacity building and knowledge exchange, extend the R&E footprint to connect additional Asia-Pacific countries and improve public internet access in least developed countries.

The launch event was attended by Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador of the European Union to India, Suk-Joon Son, Director of Network Promotion Sector, Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of the Republic of Korea, and R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor, Government of India, Neeta Verma, Director General NIC/ National Knowledge Network (NKN) among others.

NKN has set up its own Internet links from Mumbai to Amsterdam, and intends to allow Asi@Connect traffic to utilize this link. Furthermore, NKN will provide international connectivity to the neighbouring countries of Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

TEIN has created a Pan Asia-Pacific regional network with the largest geographical footprint of any regional R&E network in the world, and with a user community of over 50 million. This is of equal scale to Europe’s user community served by the GÉANT network.

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