European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) and Dante, which runs the GEANT pan-European network on NRENs' behalf, are preparing to deploy high-speed 100Gbps connections across networks.
This will enable closer collaboration on projects in areas such as climate change, energy, food security and medical and genetic research.
The need for higher capacity is being driven by a fundamental shift in how researchers work together, with a massive increase in data sharing combining with new projects and the digitisation of research methods across all sectors driving demand.
As well as projects in areas such as radio astronomy, high-energy physics and medical research, increasingly disciplines such as the arts rely on technology and networking to collaborate together.
Besides GEANT, the national networks serving Germany (DFN), France (RENATER), the United Kingdom (JANET), the Netherlands (SURFnet) and Nordic countries (NORDUnet) have all invested in high-speed trials and implementations, enabling their users to benefit from a step change in bandwidth that will see speeds increase by up to a factor of ten.
In Germany, for example, DFN has worked with key suppliers to evaluate 100Gbps technology as part of preparations for the next generation of its X-WiN technical platform.
Under typical operating conditions, data has been transmitted along a 447km network at speed of up to 100Gbps.
A final, intensive 18-hour test saw 735 terabytes transmitted - the equivalent of sending nearly 1.2 million CDs or 160,000 DVDs.