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GLORIAD/Taj Link Connects Egyptian National Science and Technology Network to the GLORIAD Network

Cairo, Egypt. May 4, 2012 – After almost two years of intense planning for new advanced science communication services for Egypt-U.S. collaboration, on December 7, 2011, the Egyptian Ministry of Science “switched on” the new high-speed GLORIAD network connecting scientists, educators and students across the US and Egypt.

Immediately, Egyptian universities, researchers and students gained access to a vastly increased speed of data transfer with thousands of universities and science facilities across the U.S., Europe, Asia and the rest of the world.

At over a billion bits per second (Gbps), the new world class high-speed connection to the Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development (GLORIAD) enables Egyptian researchers and students to participate in the most advanced research programs around the world – in high energy physics, astronomy, remote sensing, weather and climate science – and hundreds of others – by connecting universities, research facilities and schools throughout the U.S. with their peer institutions across Egypt.

According to Joe Mambretti, Director of the International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University, "The science and technologies communities in Egypt have made a major contribution to global cooperative research by implementing their advanced GLORIAD communications network and exchange, which is already supporting multiple key projects."

In just 3 months since the launch of the GLORIAD network in Cairo, network usage has been peaking at 100 Mbps. This unusually high amount of traffic at times occasionally exceeds usage by GLORIAD’s more seasoned partners.

GLORIAD-Earth data (Figure 1) indicates significant usage levels by some of the most respected universities and research facilities in Egypt and the U.S.: Egypt’s National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Science and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the National Library of Medicine in the U.S. and Egypt’s National Research Center, and the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) and Stanford University represent other of the most productive users of the network’s huge capacity.

Egypt now joins the efforts of the Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF) via GLORIAD and begins to participate in several global scientific research projects, such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator. Dr. Harvey Newman, Professor of Physics at Caltech and Chair of the US LHC Users Organization said: "The impressive US-Egypt GLORIAD network infrastructure opens a new era enabling scientific cooperation among scientists and engineers in Egypt and their colleagues throughout the world. This includes physicists working on experiments at the Large Hadron Collider exploring the nature of matter and spacetime at the highest energies, notably the group at Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) in Cairo. Together we are looking forward to a new round of discoveries this year as a result of the superb performance of the LHC and our experiment."

The US-Egypt partnership is also working to engage our future scientists. In December 2011, GLORIAD hosted the first ever school-to-school exchange over the new network, involving the STEM Academy High School and a technology magnet elementary school in Knoxville, Tennessee, and GLORIAD’s partners in Cairo.

The project, which is jointly funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Egyptian Ministry of Science, delivers towards the promise President Obama made when he spoke at Cairo University on June 4, 2009, "to create a new online network, so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo." Egyptian and American students will begin new collaborative science projects in the coming months, facilitated by high-speed audio and video quality that the advanced connection provides. This is just an example of the possible educational collaborations for K-12 and beyond. The high-speed link also opens up unique opportunities for sharing museums’ experiences across the globe.

Now that the Egypt link is up, GLORIAD partners are working to expand the network across the African continent. Egypt, as current chair of the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST), is taking a leadership role in efforts to extend GLORIAD access and its high capacity links to other countries in the region.

According to GLORIAD Principal Investigator Greg Cole, “We are actively working with our Egyptian partners to broaden the network’s reach in Africa and in the Gulf region through GLORIAD’s new GulfLight project. The work in Africa includes the North Africa Ring project (aiming to connect Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya at 1 Gbps capacity). The governments of Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan have issued formal requests to the Egyptian government to join the network. And we are in talks with telecommunications provider Baharicom to dramatically improve R&E infrastructure to communities across the west coast of Africa.” Baharicom is supported by the African Union through NEPAD.

The GLORIAD program (based in the US at the University of Tennessee Center for International Networking Initiatives) began in 1998 as the US-Russia MIRnet network – the first high-speed research and education network connecting US and Russia. It has evolved into a multi-nation collaboration – connecting over 30 million scientists, educators and students with the most advanced communications services available today – in which all international partners share in funding, creating and managing the network. This emphasis on a highly federated, distributed and decentralized model of community-focused cyber-infrastructure, based on open network exchange points and community-shared links and services, is a key principle and builds on the best traditions of the early Internet’s development.

About GLORIAD: The Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development (GLORIAD) is a high-speed network enabling scientists, students and educators to collaborate on a daily basis using today’s most advanced communications and information technology tools. It is a “separate Internet for science” – vastly more powerful than the Internet we use at our homes and offices – and dedicated to support research, education and medical science.

In addition to its partners in Egypt, GLORIAD partners with the e-Arena consortium of research and education networks in Russia, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Korean Institute of Science and Technology Information, SURFnet in the Netherlands, NORDUnet in the Nordic countries, CANARIE in Canada, SingAREN in Singapore, VINAREN in Vietnam and the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research in India.

GLORIAD grew out of the end of the Cold War, linking the U.S. with Russia. It later spread to China, Korea, Canada, the Netherlands, the five Nordic countries, Singapore, will soon announce the first direct India-US science connection and is working to connect Vietnam, the Gulf states and, with its new Egyptian partners, science communities across the continent of Africa.

GLORIAD’s primary sponsor in the U.S. is the National Science Foundation (Office of CyberInfrastracture and Office of International Science and Engineering) with more than $18.5 million dollars committed since 1998 and, in Egypt, the Egyptian Ministry of Scientific Research and the Egyptian Academy of Sciences. The US-Egypt link was enabled by a 2010 donation by Tata Communications with help by Telecom Egypt/TEData and GLORIAD’s partners at Starlight/Chicago and in Canada, Netherlands and the Nordic countries. It connects with US research networks including the National Lamba Rail, Internet2, ESnet for the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA, and the federal research and education networks for all U.S. federal research organizations.

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