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Page Updated: 20-Sep-2006
SPS Homepage > News 2004

Afghanistan links to the Virtual Silk Highway

The Virtual Silk Highway
NATO in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has become the latest link in NATO’s “Virtual Silk Highway” – the project which provides high-speed Internet access to the academic communities of the Caucasus and Central Asia.

On 10 October the first link was established between Kabul University and the Silk Highway’s European hub at DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron), in Hamburg, Germany. Kabul University is the leading academic research establishment in the country, and is home to 50% of the university students in Kabul.

This new satellite link will mean that staff and students at Kabul University and seven other educational institutes in Kabul will have affordable access to the Internet. The costs associated with using alternative commercial Internet providers has made this out of the question for the academic community until now.

The Russian team from Moscow State University which has installed all the remote ground stations for the Virtual Silk Highway, travelled to Kabul to establish this latest link, in a further demonstration of the multinational cooperative effort that the project has entailed. Further equipment and radio infrastructure are being installed in Kabul, to provide the technical capabilities for a total of eight institutes in the Kabul area to be connected to the Silk Highway network in the coming months. The President of Kabul University, Prof. Akbar Popal, is the coordinator in Afghanistan, in cooperation with Dr. Robert Janz of Groningen University, the Netherlands.

With the link established in Kabul, the project will enter a test phase, to overcome a number of technical problems such as ensuring a reliable power supply, before it becomes operational in a few weeks’ time. This successful extension of the Silk Highway Project to Afghanistan is being supervised by the Project’s Technical Manager, Dr. Hans Frese, of DESY.