A new ‘spectrum’ high-capacity Internet link that is future-proofed to enable the digital future of Moldovan and Ukrainian research and education (R&E) communities was launched on 28 September 2021.
This link achieves strategic goals for the EU4Digital EaPConnect project, strengthens and extends the pan-European GÉANT R&E network, narrows Europe’s digital divide, and supports the European Union’s vision for digital transformation in the Eastern Partnership (EaP).
At the launch event, representatives of Moldovan library and Ukrainian particle physics communities described how R&E networks and the new ‘spectrum’ link empower their work, providing access to resources and advancing international research collaboration.
The event was organised by EaPConnect as part of the EU4Digital third annual Steering Committee week (27 September – 1 October).
About the network and its ‘spectrum’ capability
The new connectivity completes a Bucharest-Chisinau-Kyiv-Poznan half ring and includes the first regional link between two Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. The new Chisinau-Kyiv and Kyiv-Poznan sections have a 100 Gbps (Gigabits per second) capacity, which means a sixfold increase for Ukraine and an elevenfold increase for Moldova, compared to previously existing links. Because this new infrastructure can be used with cutting-edge ‘spectrum’ technology, which enables even greater data flow by transmitting it as multiple wavelengths of light, the new sections could handle around 400 Gbps or more simply by upgrading the transmission modules.
This ‘spectrum’ digital highway is provided locally through the national research and education networks RENAM (Moldova) and URAN (Ukraine) as partners in EaPConnect, which is funded within the EU4Digital initiative. Procured by partners and GÉANT with reduced costs in price/Gbps/Km/year for RENAM and URAN, the new link leaves more resources for supporting the Moldovan and Ukrainian R&E communities. Secured under a 15-year Indefeasible Rights of Use contract unprecedented in EaPConnect, the pricing and technology will remain stable beyond the lifetime of the project. This not only supports EaPConnect objectives to reduce the digital divide and connect EaP R&E sectors with GÉANT, it also contributes to the goal shared with GÉANT and EU4Digital to sustain long-term digital development and the benefits it brings society.
Milestones and ‘firsts’
The new digital highway marks some other significant milestones and first-time achievements for EaPConnect, its partners and their R&E communities, and for the GÉANT backbone network:
- The link between Chisinau and Kyiv provides a vital second route for research data to enter/leave Moldova for the first time – bringing the country in line with GÉANT best practices.
- For the first time, research data flowing between EU countries could transit through Ukraine or Moldova, elevating the significance of these countries for the GÉANT community and network.
- As Ukraine is becoming a gateway for interconnection with Far Eastern and Asian carriers, connectivity via Kyiv is of even greater strategic significance for the future.
- The development adds two new GÉANT network PoPs (Points of Presence) in Chisinau and Kyiv and connects them with existing PoPs in Bucharest and Poznan: this creates additional backbone routes out of Poznan and Bucharest and extends the pan-European network.
- Integration of Moldova and Ukraine into the GÉANT infrastructure improves the reliability and redundancy of connectivity to/from those countries, reducing data flow risks and strengthening the network.
- The development brings Moldova and Ukraine in line with Europe’s most advanced research and education networks, and with improvements across the GÉANT network that are being undertaken in the GN4-3N project.
- This new network is the first time that commercially procured spectrum-capable infrastructure is used in the GÉANT network.
The launch and the benefits
EaPConnect organised the event ‘Stronger neighbours, stronger global research & education partners: ‘Spectrum’ digital highways interconnect Moldova, Ukraine and European partners’ to launch and celebrate the new connectivity. Around 70 guests from universities and research institutes, government ministries and research funding authorities, EC Delegations, the EU4Digital initiative and the EC’s DG NEAR took part in this online event.
Representing the Moldovan REM (Electronic Resources for Moldova) Library Consortium, which brings together 22 libraries including 14 university libraries, Mariana Harjevschi, General Director of the B.P. Hasdeu Municipal Library in Chisinau, showed the importance of the new connectivity in realising this community’s mission.
“Effective use of digital technologies has become an inseparable part of our everyday work. We develop repositories, support university publishing in Open Access directories, develop Electronic Libraries and ensure online access to scientific literature resources for R&E institutions – all these activities supported by the network provide better services for our end-users,” she said.
Representatives from Ukrainian and Moldovan government ministries and from the EC’s DG NEAR – Directorate General of Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, which funds EaPConnect through the EU4Digital initiative – responded very positively to the launch of the new spectrum network and the value it brings for the digital future for Moldova, Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries.
“During the joint implementation of EaPConnect, Eastern Partnership countries have developed strong links between researchers and education communities, ensuring high-quality data sharing, to become competitive and integrated in the global information society. Such cooperation not only supports Ukraine and EaP countries increasing their research and educational capacities, it ensures a big step towards integration in the European Research Area,” said Andrii Vitrenko, First Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine.