Research and Education Networking FAQ - Organisations

Who are TERENA?

TERENA (Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association) is a not-for-profit association of mainly European National Research and Education Networks. It was formed in October 1994 through the merger of RARE (Réseaux Associés pour la Recherche Européenne) and EARN (European Academic and Research Network), and is incorporated in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The objectives of TERENA are to promote and develop high-quality international network infrastructures to support European research and education. This is undertaken in several ways:

  • by investigating, evaluating and deploying new networking technologies;
  • by supporting new networking services where appropriate;
  • through knowledge transfer in the shape of conferences, seminars and training events;
  • by advising governments and other authorities on networking issues;
  • liaising with networking organisations in other parts of the world.

Full membership of TERENA is open to NRENs (one per country as defined by the ITU) and international public sector organisations. Associate membership is available for other organisations (commercial or otherwise) with an interest in research and education networking.

The TERENA membership collectively forms the General Assembly (or GA) which normally meets twice per year. This determines the overall direction and policy of the organisation, and also periodically elects a President, Treasurer and four other officials for three-year terms (with a third of the officials being elected each year). These voluntary officials in turn collectively form the Executive Committee (or TEC) which supervises the running of the association and its Secretariat.

The Secretariat supports the various TERENA activities and consists of a small professional staff headed by a Secretary-General. Its main activities are organising the annual TERENA Networking Conference (or TNC) for the research and education networking community in Europe, supporting collaborative activities, and coordinating and contributing to various EC projects.

TERENA also has a number of advisory bodies such as the Technical Advisory Council (or TAC) which meets once-a-year to advise on technical issues; the Technical Committee (or TTC) which is a smaller group of technical experts that usually meets 3 or 4 times-per-year to coordinate and supervise specific technical activities; and the Programme Committee (or PC) that usually meets twice-per-year to determine the programme for the forthcoming TNC.

As of January 2010, TERENA had 37 national members, 2 international members, and 9 associate members:

National Members - ACOnet (Austria), AMRES (Serbia), ARNES (Slovenia), BELNET (Belgium), BREN (Bulgaria), CARNet (Croatia), CESNET (Czech Republic), CYNET (Cyprus), DFN (Germany), EENet (Estonia), FCCN (Portugal), FUNET (Finland), GARR (Italy), GRNET (Greece), HEAnet (Ireland), HUNGARNET (Hungary), IUCC (Israel), JANET(UK) (United Kingdom), LITNET (Lithuania), MARNET (Macedonia), MREN (Montenegro), PCSS (Poland), RedIRIS (Spain), RENATER (France), RESTENA (Luxembourg), RHnet (Iceland), RoEduNet (Romania), SANET (Slovakia), Sigmanet (Latvia), SUNET (Sweden), SURFnet (The Netherlands), SWITCH (Switzerland), UIIP NASB (Belarus), ULAKBIM (Turkey), Uni-C (Denmark), Uninett (Norway), and University of Malta (Malta).

International Members - CERN, ESA

Associate Members - ADVA Optical Networking, Cisco Systems, DANTE, EMBL, Extreme Networks, Juniper, Level 3 Communications, NORDUnet, and Tata Communications.

Who are DANTE?

DANTE (Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe) is a not-for-profit organisation that plans that plans, builds and operates the international networks that interconnect the various National Research and Education Networks in Europe and surrounding regions. It was established in 1993 as a limited liability company incorporated in the UK, and is presently owned by 15 NRENs (or their parent government agencies) who are the shareholders. The company employs a number of staff, and is based in Cambridge, UK.

The specific role of DANTE is to act as a project managing agency on behalf of the NRENs in Europe. In other words, it develops and subsequently coordinates the EU projects (currently GN3, ALICE2, CAREN, EUMEDCONNECT2, ORIENT and TEIN3) that support international connectivity within Europe and to other regions. However, it should be noted that formal decision-making within such projects remains the responsibility of all the participating partners.

DANTE currently operates the GÉANT pan-European backbone network, and previously operated the earlier generation IXI, EuropaNET, TEN-34 and TEN-155 networks. It also provides connections to Abilene (United States), ESnet (United States), NLR (United States), NASA REN (United States), CA*net4 (Canada), APAN (Asia-Pacific), RedCLARA (Latin America), ERNET (India), TENET (South Africa), and a number of Mediterranean Region countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey). One of its major activities in this respect is to run the competitive tenders for procurement of connections and equipment.

The DANTE shareholders are: Consortium GARR (Italy) 14%, DFN (Germany) 14%, HEFCE (United Kingdom) 14%, RENATER (France) 14%, SURFnet (The Netherlands) 9%, SWITCH (Switzerland) 9%, NORDUnet (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway & Sweden) 7%, CSIC (Spain) 5%, ARNES (Slovenia) 2%, CESNET (Czech Republic) 2%, FCCN (Portugal) 2%, HUNGARNET (Hungary) 2%, HEAnet (Ireland) 2%, Ariadnet (Greece) 2%, and RESTENA (Luxembourg) 2%. These shareholders periodically elect a non-executive Board of Directors (including a Chairman) to supervise the running of the company in conjunction with two professional general managers.

The current shareholders are those organisations that originally or subsequently provided DANTE with working capital. However, as these now only represent a subset of those members of the GN3 Consortium, there are now proposals to restructure the company.

What is the NREN Consortium?

The NREN Consortium is a group of European National Research and Education Networks plus DANTE and TERENA who constitute the project participants in the European Commission-supported GN3 project (and previously the GN1, GN2, QUANTUM and TEN-34 projects). It is not a legal entity by itself, but is regulated by a Consortium Agreement.

The consortium members collectively form the Policy Committee (or NREN PC) which is the formal decision-making body. This is headed by the Policy Committee Chairman (or NREN PC Chairman) who is elected for a two-year term.

There is also a smaller Executive Committee that is responsible for preparing the yearly work plans, and for supervising project implementation. This is comprised of nine voting members elected by the NREN PC, and six non-voting ex-officio members (namely the NREN PC Chairman, the Chairman of the DANTE Board of Directors, the DANTE General Managers, the DANTE Chief Financial Officer, the TERENA President, and the TERENA Secretary-General).

The thirty-two voting members of the NREN Consortium are: ACOnet (Austria), AMRES (Serbia), ARNES (Slovenia), BELNET (Belgium), BREN (Bulgaria), CARNet (Croatia), CESNET (Czech Republic), CYNET (Cyprus), DFN (Germany), EENet (Estonia), FCCN (Portugal), GARR (Italy), GRNET (Greece), HEAnet (Ireland), HUNGARNET (Hungary), IUCC (Israel), JANET (United Kingdom), LITNET (Lithuania), MARNET (FYR Macedonia), MREN (Montenegro), PSNC (Poland), RedIRIS (Spain), RENATER (France), RESTENA (Luxembourg), RoEduNet (Romania), SANET (Slovakia), Sigmanet (Latvia), SURFnet (The Netherlands), SWITCH (Switzerland), ULAKBIM (Turkey), University of Malta (Malta), and NORDUnet (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway & Sweden). There are also two non-voting members: DANTE and TERENA.

What is CEENet?

CEENet (Central and Eastern European Networking Association) is a not-for-profit association of national networking organisations in Central/Eastern Europe and adjacent areas. It was formed in 1993 to improve research and education networking in all former Eastern Bloc countries, but is now mostly focused on countries outside of the NREN Consortium. The association is registered in Vienna, Austria.

The objectives of CEENet are promote technical and organisational collaboration between its members. This is undertaken in the following ways:

  • through the organisation of conferences, workshops and training events;
  • the submission of project applications to European and other international funding organisations;
  • by publishing and distributing relevant information;
  • by undertaking technical activities where appropriate.

Ordinary membership of CEENet is open to NRENs (one per country). Special membership is open to other organisations or individuals who promote the activities of the association.

The membership usually meets once-per-year at a General Meeting (or GM) in order to define the objectives, policies, and tasks of the association. It also periodically elects a Chairman, Treasurer, Minute-Keeper, and three deputies for two-year terms. These voluntary officials collectively form the Management Committee (or MC) in order to execute the decisions of the GM and supervise the Secretariat.

The Secretariat supports the various CEENet activities and consists of a small part-time staff headed by a Secretary-General. This is based in Warsaw, Poland and its main activities are the organisation of workshops and training events.

CEENet currently has 23 members who are: ACOnet (Austria), AKNET (Kyrgyzstan), AMRES (Serbia), ARNES (Slovenia), CARNet (Croatia), CESNET (Czech Republic), EENet (Estonia), FREEnet (Russia), GRENA (Georgia), GRNET (Greece), HUNGARNET (Hungary), INIMA (Albania), ISOC-AM (Armenia), ISTF (Bulgaria), LITNET (Lithuania), MARNET (Macedonia), NASK (Poland), RENAM (Moldova), RNC (Romania), SANET (Slovakia), Sigmanet (Latvia), ULAKBIM (Turkey), UZSciNet (Uzbekistan). It should be noted though, that not all of these organisations are established NRENs in the countries they represent.

What research and education networking organisations exist in other world regions?

The Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions have continental networking organisations providing connectivity between NRENs in those regions. North America is not served by a single organisation, but through a collaboration of different research and education networks.

At the present time, there are no continental networking organisations for Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia or the Caribbean, although several smaller regional initiatives are planned.


APAN (Asia-Pacific Advanced Network) is a not-for-profit international consortium that fosters the development of research and education networking in the Asia-Pacific region. It was formed in June 1997 to build on the activities started by the APNG (Asia-Pacific Next-Generation) group.

The main objective of APAN is to coordinate international connections in the region in order to establish a backbone network for exchanging research and education traffic. This is achieved in a cooperative manner, with links generally being funded by individual governments or institutions. APAN also organises conferences, workshops and training events, and facilitates collaborative technical activities.


CANARIE (Canadian Advanced Network and Research for Industry and Education) is a not-for-profit corporation that supports research and education networking in Canada. It was founded in 1993 and is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada.

The main activity is to deploy the CA*Net backbone network that interconnects the provincial research networks in Canada. It also provides testbed facilities and develops technologies to support advanced services and applications.

CANARIE has more than eighty members which includes universities, higher education colleges, research institutes, government agencies, and other public bodies. It receives its funding from the Canadian Federal Government and its member institutions.

Whilst CANARIE acts as the Canadian NREN, it closely co-operates with US initiatives such as Internet2 and NLR. As a result, its continent-wide reach and strategic position make it an important partner in global research and education networking activities.


CLARA (Cooperación Latino Americana de Redes Avanzandas) is a non-governmental association of Latin American National Research and Education Networks. It was formed in June 2003, and is incorporated in Uruguay.

The main objective of CLARA is to operate the RedCLARA backbone network that interconnects NRENs in South and Central America. Other activities include the organisation of informational and training events, and the collaborative development of network services.


Internet2 is a not-for-profit consortium of US universities to develop and deploy advanced networking technologies. It is actually a trademark of UCAID (University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development) which is the organisation that formally manages its activities. This is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Washington, DC.

One of the main activities is the deployment of a backbone network (formerly known as Abilene, but now known simply as the Internet2 network) to interconnect major universities, as well as state research and education networks. Many other countries and regions also have direct or indirect connections with this network. Internet2/UCAID is generally considered to be the de-facto NREN of the United States, although it is not the only nationwide research and education network.

The Internet2 initiative started in 1996, and was formally constituted in 1997. The consortium currently consists of over 200 universities and more than 50 corporate partners. There are also a number of affiliated research institutes, state research and education networks, and NRENs.

National LambdaRail

National LambdaRail (or NLR) is a not-for-profit corporation established by a number of US universities and research institutes to operate a transcontinental optical network linking regional networks and research centres. It was formally incorporated in Delaware in 2003, and has operations centres in both California and Indiana.

The aims of NLR are to support demanding applications in the computationally-intensive science fields, and to provide facilities for testing next-generation networking technologies. It does not specifically provide production services, although these can be provisioned over its network. In addition, it offers peerings with other research networks and commercial ISPs.