The Case of NRENs in Central Asia

Robert Franciscus Janz, Askar Kutanov


National Research and Education Network organizations (NRENs) provide advanced information and communication technology (ICT) services for the academic community of their country. Their focus is often on providing affordable high speed bandwidth amongst their members and to other research networks, but NRENs also provide other advanced services such as electronic repositories, educational environments and supercomputing facilities.

Higher Education and Research institutions have to play an active role in the transformation to the “Knowledge Society”. A recent (2010) report of the International Telecommunication Union has identified NRENs as important vehicles in reaching the goals of the World Summit of the Information Society.

It is also demonstrated that the Central Asian countries score very low in the Networked Readiness Indices of the World Economic Forum, including areas where strong NRENs could improve the status quo. NRENs therefore have a role that is also important for the nation itself and therefore claims for government support are legitimate.

About 62% of the countries of the world already have an NREN and there are four characteristics that are common to these NRENs. In nearly all of the cases the NREN is a not-for-profit organization that not only serves the academic community, but is also owned by the same community.

Four out of five Central Asian countries have an active NREN and these NRENs all participate in the EC funded CAREN project that aims to set up a sustainable regional network for the academic communities in the participating countries. Today, the Central Asian Research and Education Network (CAREN) is upgrading the ancient Silk Road to a 21st-century high-speed internet highway for research and educational institutions through the region. Operational since July 2010, CAREN currently interconnects scientists and students from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

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Copyright (c) 2012 Robert Franciscus Janz, Askar Kutanov

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