What’s an R&E Network?

Did you know that publicly-funded academic research and education (R&E) networks created the foundation for ubiquitous internet? The profound impact this has had on society is immeasurable. 

Today, R&E networking continues to impact. From helping researchers solve some of society’s greatest challenges, in fields like disaster management, agriculture, healthcare, environment, climatology and more, to bridging the digital divide and unlocking opportunities for online education and training.

National R&E networks (also known as NRENs) are not commercial internet service providers (ISPs). They are much more. NRENs provide ultra high-speed information networks and bespoke services dedicated to the unique needs of universities and research institutes. In some countries, this includes schools, hospitals, libraries, museums and other national facilities.

While commercial ISPs are characterized by fierce competition; R&E networks typically are publicly funded not-for-profit organizations that thrive on collaboration. This collaborative spirit is at the heart of the global R&E network community, empowering research and education across the globe. 

This is why R&E networks bring exceptional value:


R&E networks operate nationally but connect globally. There are more than 125 dedicated R&E networks across the world, working together as a global ‘network of networks’ to provide seamless connectivity and tailor-made services for their education and research communities at an unrivalled scale.

Connecting to your national R&E network gives you access to the world, to scientific instruments, computational resources and cloud services, all at ultra high-speed – and being part of your national R&E network means you are part of the global R&E network community. It’s that straightforward.

Eduroam is a great example of a service developed by the R&E community. With eduroam, a secure global roaming service, students, faculty and staff on the move can gain wireless network access at more than 12,000 locations worldwide, using the standard username and password credentials they use at their home institution for wireless network access.

Our unprecedented scale, scope and reach mean that we can resolve and troubleshoot our end-to-end services, globally, in a customised way that commercial organisations cannot.


R&E networks move huge amounts of data across the globe, safely, reliably, quickly. This is essential for world-class research.

On a technical level R&E networks are engineered with low latency, low contention and with sufficient head-room capacity to support bursts of intense use. These are some of the key features that set R&E networks apart from commercial networks.

If a research project suddenly needs to transport large amounts of data there will be capacity to do so on demand.

When data travels over networks there will always be some delay from the moment data is sent until it arrives at its destination. R&E networks can provide ultra low latency connections to users in need of this kind of service, like musicians performing together over vast distances, with sound and video being transmitted with high bandwidth and low latency.

With R&E networks you are guaranteed specific bandwidth and quality of service end-to-end, as long as both sides of the connection are located within the R&E network or an R&E network in another country.


National R&E networks leverage the global community to support the bespoke and demanding needs of the research and education sector.

By sharing information and developing collaborations of best practice, the global R&E network community creates efficiencies and avoids reinventing the wheel.

In many countries, R&E networks provide connectivity for universities and institutions and organisations with a research and education mission at a cost and capacity that commercial networks cannot.

Trust and Identity

The global R&E network community understands the education and research space and occupies a unique trusted position between governments and educational institutions on the one side, and commercial organisations such as Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon on the other.

Many R&E networks are already recognised as pools of independent expertise within their countries and are frequently called upon to provide guidance on the development of national and international policy on education, research and IT.

R&E networks collaborated to develop and deploy eduGAIN, an inter-federation service that interconnects identity federations around the world, enabling the secure exchange of information related to identity, authentication, and authorisation. eduGAIN facilitates seamless access to services and resources across national borders for the benefit of researchers, educators, and students.

eduGAIN plays a crucial role in supporting global collaboration in research and education by allowing users from one country to easily access resources and services hosted in another, using their home institution’s login credentials. This is especially beneficial for international projects and initiatives that involve multiple institutions across different countries.

Security and Reliability

R&E networks offer a secure and reliable infrastructure for the transmission of sensitive and critical scientific data. We implement advanced security protocols and network management practices to protect data integrity and availability, which is paramount for scientific research.

To enhance the security and reliability of R&E networks, we collaborate to create security frameworks for worldwide implementation, while also individually adhering to our respective local country security regulations.


R&E networks are drivers of innovation. They develop national and international test beds and pilot services, many of which result in new services that facilitate collaboration, such as trust and identity management solutions.

Advanced R&E networks stimulate innovation in the research and education community and, in doing so enable rapid technological advances, sometimes years ahead of commercial organisations.


The R&E network community works together on a national and international scale to drive progress worldwide. The power of that community lies not only in the routers and pipes but in its people, who come together with their technology peers and researchers and educators to explore ideas, share knowledge and best practice and develop projects for the greater good.

This collaborative spirit is at the heart of the global R&E network community.

Learn more about R&E networks:

The Case For NRENs

Is External

This portal sets out to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for NRENs to find information, materials, arguments and tools for persuading key stakeholders about their raison d’être, value and role and for making the case for R&E networking in general.

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Is External

The goal of the Global Network Advancement Group (GNA-G) is for R&E networks to work together to better align our resources and make the country-to-country interconnections more efficient for global science collaborations and transnational education.

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Stories on this Blog

Advanced ICT is the core of the global network of R&E networks, but these critical networks are made up of more than fibre, routers and switches. This blog brings together networks, users and beneficiaries to showcase inspiring stories about people and projects making a difference.

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