15 February 2016 | Cambridge, UK
eduroam drives NREN development
Lebanon has recently joined the global research and education (R&E) networking community with a link from the American University of Beirut (AUB) to the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN) PoP in London, bringing the current number of non-EU countries reached by the GÉANT network to 65.
With support from GÉANT and ASREN, AUB has allocated 10 Mbps of its existing internet bandwidth to an ASREN link terminating in London, from where it interconnects with GÉANT, thus providing AUB with international R&E connectivity.
In welcoming the connection to GÉANT, Steve Cotter, CEO GÉANT, commented: “The American University of Beirut and other Lebanese institutions have a long history of academic and scientific excellence. The connection to GÉANT will open up further opportunities for their researchers and students to engage in exciting international collaborations with their peers in Europe and further afield, and allow Lebanon to be an active partner in the EUMEDCONNECT3 project in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
This step accelerated efforts to set up an NREN in Lebanon. Discussions are underway between AUB and 10 universities and research centres across Lebanon to formally establish LERN (Lebanese Education and Research Network).
Value-added services like eduroam, the secure, world-wide roaming access service, have been key in the benefit debate about LERN.
”It can be challenging to convince R&E institutions in Lebanon about the value of an NREN, especially when the infrastructure, tariffs and political climate are all but favourable”, explained Yousif Asfour, CIO at AUB. “But by moving the NREN discussion away from how can we build a fast and cheap network,” he continued, “it opens the doors to putting the focus on providing shared services to build a community and then using this community as leverage to build the high bandwidth. The implementation of eduroam at AUB has delivered a key argument to secure a critical mass of support.”
To accelerate the process of formalising LERN, AUB intends to open the current connection to other Lebanese institutions and to jointly take up additional services such as eduGAIN (interfederation). The current link capacity is therefore expected to be increased in the near future.
An interview with Yousif Asfour on challenges and opportunities for LERN will appear in the next issue of the GÉANT CONNECT magazine.
Lebanon is a partner in the EU co-funded EUMEDCONNECT3 project which aims to connect Eastern Mediterranean countries to GÉANT, providing a gateway for international R&E collaborations.
GÉANT partners up with regional networking organisation ASREN (Arab States Research and Education Network) to support the creation of regional networks in the Eastern Mediterranean (through the EUMEDCONNECT3 programme) and North Africa (through the AfricaConnect2 project) and their interconnection with the pan-European GÉANT network.