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Eastern Mediterranean spurred on by EUMEDCONNECT3 project extension and Lebanon capacity upgrade

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The year has started well for the NREN and user community across the Eastern Mediterranean thanks to a three-year extension of the EU-funded EUMEDCONNECT3 project, which supports international R&E connectivity for the region.

But that’s not all: until December 2019 the beneficiary partners in Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine can also benefit from an increase in the European Commission’s co-funding share from 36% to 60% of the overall project costs which is set to catalyse further connections and capacity upgrades.

The contract amendment was formalised earlier this month between project coordinator GÉANT and the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) of the European Commission which provides €3.2M funding. The extension was announced at e-AGE 2016 – the flagship event of project partner ASREN - held at the beginning of December at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon. During the opening session, ministers as well as senior officials, including from the EC, stressed the importance of technological literacy as a key factor for socio-economic and scientific progress and recognised the role of initiatives such as EUMEDCONNECT3 in enabling international collaboration and in forging citizens of the world.

Conference participants also welcomed the announcement of the recent capacity upgrade of Lebanon’s international connectivity link. In early 2016, AUB allocated 10 Mbps of its internet bandwidth to interconnect to the GÉANT network via ASREN’s London hub for a pilot connection. The success of this and the prospect of the EUMEDCONNECT3 project extension led to the capacity being upgraded to 320 Mbps in November and accelerated plans for an NREN in Lebanon (LERN).

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