The information superhighway linking universities in Asia and Europe is set to become faster and wider following a Euro18 million cash (HK$177.21 million) injection. The Trans-Eurasia Information Network will be extended to at least three more countries in South Asia and its bandwidth will be increased to 2.5 gigabits per second across the whole network, allowing faster transmission of bigger chunks of data. Currently sections within Asia range from 622 megabits per second to 1 gigabit per second . The European Union is providing Euro12 million and its 10 Asian partners, which include Hong Kong and China, are giving Euro6 million for the upgrade under the next phase of the project, known as TIEN3. The move was announced at the recent Asia-Europe Meeting in Beijing and was initially due to be formally launched on Monday at an ASEM workshop on information and communications technology for development in Vientiane, Laos. However, the European Commission announced this week that the event had been cancelled due to the 'situation at Bangkok Airport'. The existing network, TEIN2, connects 30 million users in 4,000 institutions across Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand to their counterparts in Europe - and to each other. The first high-bandwidth network for universities and research institutes in Asia, it links to Europe via GEANT2, one of the world's most advanced university networks with bandwidths of more than 1,000 gigabits per second in Europe and links to many other regions. Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for information, society and media, said: 'Today's research community has to be truly global if it is to successfully address the major challenges we face across the world. 'Through the link between TEIN3 and GEANT2, scientists and researchers in Asia Pacific will not only be able to collaborate with their European peers but also work with colleagues in regional networks around the world.' University leaders from Asia and Europe are setting up a secretariat in Singapore to develop a common international platform and represent them in negotiations with education ministers in the ASEM group. The move was agreed at a recent meeting of 100 university and higher education leaders from ASEM member countries in Berlin, which also backed a strategic Asia Europe education partnership that was agreed by ASEM education ministers in May. They sent recommendations to the education ministers for their next meeting in Hanoi that include ongoing discussions between the ministers' group and the universities' group.