Pakistan's Education and Research Network (PERN) now has access to GÉANT, the world's largest multi-gigabit computer network dedicated to research and education, thanks to an agreement between the EU-funded Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN3) and the TransPAC network of the US National Science Foundation (NSF). This marks a significant move forward in the EU's goal to decrease the divide between developing and developed countries. Research and education networks provide academic institutions with high-scale internet connections at an affordable price, enabling them to collect and exchange enormous amounts of data and collaborate with other network partners. By driving the development of such networks, the European Community hopes to enable academic institutions in less developed countries to exchange information with more advanced partners; the goal is to increase economic development, open up societies and build democracy. 'Europe is delighted that Pakistan's scientists and academics are now connected to the global research and education community thanks to this new link,' said Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media. 'This is an excellent model for co-operation between North American and European programmes, which I hope we can build on in the future.' 'Since the European Community concluded a Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development with Pakistan in 2004, we have made considerable progress in deepening our relations,' added European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner. 'The connection to the TEIN and GÉANT networks enables Pakistani scientists to become involved in international research collaboration and reinforces our commitment towards building a strong partnership with Pakistan.' GÉANT interconnects national research and education networks across Europe, using advanced photonic (optical) transmission equipment to deliver practically unlimited communication capabilities. Weather forecasting, earth observation, radio astronomy, high energy physics or the new Large Hadron Collider at CERN rely on access to this type of network infrastructure. PERN connects approximately 60 educational and research institutions in Pakistan, providing the necessary bandwidth to share data, access scientific journals, videoconferencing and content-sharing systems at an affordable price. It operates using routers in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. PERN is connected to GÉANT via its new link with TEIN, an EU-funded, large-scale data communications network for research and education communities in the Asia-Pacific region. TEIN is considered to be Asia's GÉANT equivalent, and is connected directly to the European network. It provides the first direct electronic communication routes to Europe; previously, most connections between researchers in Asia and Europe went via North America. TEIN3, the 'next generation' of EU-funded Asian research networks, was recently launched by the European Commission and has been granted EUR12 million. PERN will use the TEIN3's 155 million bits per second (Mbps) connection between Karachi and the TEIN3 network hub in Singapore to connect with researchers in Europe and North America. The TEIN network is managed by DANTE (Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe), a not-for-profit research networking organisation that manages and operates the GÉANT network. GÉANT has 30 project partners and is co-funded by the European Commission under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Earlier in 2008 the GÉANT network established links with research networks in the Balkans, the Black Sea and Mediterranean regions, as well Asia, Southern Africa and Latin America. TEIN and GÉANT together serve close to 100 million researchers in Europe and Asia, enhancing research collaboration in fields such as climate change, radio astronomy and biotechnology. The networks have enabled ground-breaking research collaboration in several key scientific areas.