Now high-sepeed links will be established with similar research systems in Asia, Latin America and southern Africa, as well as the Balkans, the Black Sea and Mediterranean regions, with help from European funding, the EU's executive arm said.
"With GEANT's massive data processing capacity, Europe can now bring together the best minds in the world to tackle the challenges that we all face. Europe's financial investment in a high speed backbone network for research ? around €23 million per year ? benefits Europe's competitiveness, but is also boosting collaboration between researchers on a global scale," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "By investing a further ?90 million up to 2012 in the 3rd generation G?ANT, the EU is committed to staying at the forefront of the Internet's evolution, and to making scientific collaboration seamless and straightforward."
GEANT was launched in 2000 and is jointly funded by Brussels and participating nations.
The commission also announced a further 90 million euros (136 million dollars) in funding for the project up to 2012.
The network already boasts a total of 50,000 kilometres of super-fast 'dark' fibre-optic connections linked to hybrid networking technology, allowing for 320 gigabits of information to stream through per second.
It serves some 30 million users in over 3,500 universities and research centres and connects 34 national research networks.
In a statement, the commission praised the GEANT project as providing "huge technological advances for big science," including EXPReS, an EU radio astronomy project which links the world's largest radio telescopes in China, Europe, South Africa and Chile to a supercomputer in the Netherlands which produces real-time imaging.
For additional information visit http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf/itemlongdetail.cfm?item_id=3915.