Research flowing between the United States, Europe and Africa got a significant boost early this year when Indiana University and its partners flipped the switch on a new 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps) transatlantic link.

The new network runs over the America-Europe Connect (AEConnect) subsea cable system provided by vendor Aqua Comms DAC in support of the Networks for European, American and African Research, or NEAAR, grant.

Dr. Jennifer Schopf, director of International Networks at IU, is the principal investigator on the NEAAR award, which provides services and bandwidth connecting researchers in the U.S. with their counterparts in Europe and Africa. NEAAR is funded through the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) International Research Network Connections program. In fact, NEAAR supports the majority of the NSF-funded research sharing between Africa and the United States.

“Indiana University has a long history of supporting high performance networking as a tool to advance research and education collaborations around the world,” said Dr. Schopf. “This new circuit continues that mission, enabling important work in bioinformatics, geoscience and medical research. We’re excited to be able to offer this additional capacity to U.S., European and African researchers.”

The new link, which runs over the AEConnect cable between the U.S. and Ireland, marks IU’s latest foray into transatlantic networking. The university collaborated with the pan-European network for research and education and NEAAR co-lead, GÉANT, as well as Aqua Comms to bring the 3,431-mile undersea cable network to life this month. AEConnect replaces the previous connection between the researchers and provides three times faster connectivity than previously possible.

Cathrin Stöver, chief collaboration officer at GÉANT, celebrates the intercontinental partnership. “From food security to viral diseases and climate change, the challenges we face are very much global,” she said. “Our mission is to support researchers in solving these challenges, combining their knowledge wherever they are to allow faster discovery. Through increased transatlantic capacity and the European Union-funded AfricaConnect2 project, GÉANT is proud to enable faster data sharing between researchers on three continents.”

“We’re pleased to partner with IU and to support its NEAAR award over our AEConnect subsea cable system,” said Nigel Bayliff, chief executive officer, Aqua Comms. “Utilizing innovative optical technologies to provide flexible and scalable connectivity between continents, AEConnect provides IU and NEAAR with a level of reliability, security and performance necessary to conduct their research with complete confidence.”