Canarie - About Us


Frequently Asked Questions

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1. What is CANARIE?    

CANARIE is Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network. CANARIE is one of the world’s largest and fastest dedicated networks. Over 19,000 km of fibre-optic cable connects Canada’s education, research and innovation communities to each other and the world. CANARIE also funds a range of programs that advance digital infrastructure in Canada.


2. What is "digital infrastructure"?    

Digital infrastructure refers to the digital technologies that support digital research, science, education and innovation in Canada. These include CANARIE and Compute/Calcul Canada, the high performance computing consortia. Investments in digital infrastructure lay the foundation for a strong digital economy by fostering digital innovation and helping to create a digitally skilled workforce. Long-term, they are seen to be the catalyst for job creation, long-term productivity growth, enhanced international competitiveness and significant improvements in quality of life.


3. Why was CANARIE created?    

CANARIE was created to ensure Canadians could engage in leading-edge research that requires much more capability and capacity than is available using the commercial Internet. CANARIE lets Canada’s researchers, innovators and educators at institutions across the country access massive data sets, sophisticated tools and complex scientific instruments in Canada and around the world.


4. Who uses the CANARIE Network?    

Today, one million researchers, scientists and students at over 1,100 Canadian institutions, including universities, colleges, research institutes, hospitals, and government laboratories across Canada have access to CANARIE. Hundreds of thousands of K-12 students at over 2,000 K-12 schools have access to CANARIE through their provincial advanced network.


5. Why is this capability through CANARIE so important?    

CANARIE’s advanced network is critical digital infrastructure, essential to keeping Canadian research at the leading edge of innovation and building a strong foundation for Canada’s digital economy. The network connects researchers and innovators in all sectors, from the life sciences to the environment, energy, health, information and communications technologies, automotive, and aerospace.

These links enable Canadians to conduct leading-edge research and collaborate nationally and internationally.


6. Why can’t researchers just use the commercial Internet?    

CANARIE's ultra high-speed, high bandwidth network enables scientists to conduct leading-edge research that is often not feasible over the commercial Internet. Researchers have many unique requirements. They often place large demands on the network. CANARIE's allows researchers to:

  • Exchange, manage and analyze large volumes of data quickly, without consuming bandwidth available for other users. This is important because:
    • It would require one day to transfer a terabyte of data over a typical high-speed Internet connection
    • These large volumes of information (terabytes) would quickly consume the available bandwidth on a commercial network
    • Some researchers only require high bandwidth for a short duration
  • Conduct experiments that require dedicated or specialized networking capability and engineering support.
  • Perform specialized or high-risk tests that could bring down a commercial network. This would pose a significant risk to commercial carriers, causing potential interruptions to service, dissatisfied customers and loss of revenues.

Researchers today require enormous network capacity and speed — well beyond the type of traffic and applications used on the commercial Internet.

For instance:

  • Researchers today generate record amounts — often many terabytes — of data, that could take days to move on the Internet, but can be sent in hours, or minutes or even real time on CANARIE.
  • CANARIE connects Canadian researchers with a number of highly sophisticated “big science” instruments, like synchrotrons, telescopes, particle accelerators, camera and sensor arrays whose data streams require CANARIE’s high bandwidth.
  • CANARIE connects innovators and researchers to colleagues, data and tools located across the country — or around the world — that are only accessible via other national global advanced networks that CANARIE connects to.

It is also important to note that CANARIE provides the same robust network capacity to researchers across Canada, not just those located in major urban centres.


7. How Does CANARIE enable data-driven science in Canada, and why is it important?    

The advanced networking capability provided by CANARIE enables researchers to analyze massive volumes of information and find 'needles in haystacks' that can lead to important discoveries, such as cures for deadly diseases such as cancer, new energy sources, and more effective ways to predict natural disasters.

Data-driven science and research is the ability to extract solutions to key research problems from volumes of data, and it's making a significant impact on our world. It is transforming how we put data to work-in industry, hospitals, national security agencies and our homes.

With the convergence of scientific disciplines and technologies, researchers in the fields of engineering, physics, earth sciences, chemistry, biology, social sciences, arts, humanities, life sciences and medicine, are all seeing the increasing need to conduct data-driven research.


8. How much more powerful is CANARIE?    

The core CANARIE Network has 10 gigabit per second (10Gbps) capacity, and in key corridors has 100 gigabits per second capacity (100 Gbps). That’s thousands of times faster than the fastest current commercial Internet offerings. On CANARIE’s 100 Gbps network, you could download the entire iTunes movie catalogue in seven seconds.


9. Why do researchers need to move and access so much data?    

New research relies on sophisticated instruments, sensor networks, and tools that generate massive amounts of data for analysis, modeling and simulation. This can lead to important discoveries, such as cures for deadly diseases, new energy sources, better forecasting of natural disasters and more.

With CANARIE, researchers can also share or simultaneously access this data from anywhere, as if they were all in the same room.


10. My province already has a high-speed research network. Why do we need CANARIE?    

CANARIE connects research communities nationwide who use the 12 provincial and territorial Optical Regional Advanced Networks (ORANs). CANARIE is also Canada’s gateway to more than 100 advanced research networks in 100 countries around the world.


11. Is CANARIE just the network?    

CANARIE also manages a range of funding programs that advance digital infrastructure in Canada.

Some programs fund specific research initiatives that promote research collaboration and ease of access to data sets. Others promote the expansion of the network across Canada, linking more researchers and innovators to each other and to data and tools.

Still other programs advance leading-edge ICT technologies, like Green IT, that lay the foundation for Canadian leadership in a growing industry sector.


12. Who runs CANARIE?    

CANARIE is a non-profit corporation supported by membership fees, with the major investment provided by the Government of Canada.

CANARIE is overseen by a Board of Directors made up of leaders in education, research and innovation who provide strategic direction for the network’s physical expansion, program development, and new services.


13. Can anyone use CANARIE?    

CANARIE is available to scientists, researchers and innovators at universities, colleges, hospitals, school boards, private and public sector research labs and government departments and agencies.


14. Why is "optical fibre" so much better than copper wire?    

SPEED: Fibre-optic networks operate at high speeds — up into the gigabits

BANDWIDTH: Large carrying capacity

DISTANCE: Signals can be transmitted further without needing to be "refreshed" or strengthened.

RESISTANCE: Greater resistance to electromagnetic “noise” such as radios, motors or other nearby cables.

MAINTENANCE: Fibre-optic cables cost much less to maintain



15. How does CANARIE optimize Canada's research investment?    

CANARIE provides a cost-effective, national platform for research and collaboration by leveraging regional and federal R&D resources, including infrastructure such as labs, tools and technologies; and funding for scientists such as Canada Research Chairs.

Backed by a track record of proven results, CANARIE has achieved synergies by connecting researchers and resources across the country, and enabling them to do more together. This helps Canada to reap more value from innovation investments made through the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canadian granting councils and other federal and provincial innovation agencies.

As a highly effective and responsible steward of public funds, CANARIE:

  • Creates national access to big science facilities by allowing scientists to conduct experiments remotely, helping to reduce the cost of research, increase the use of these highly specialized facilities, and create new expertise across the country.
  • Exploits Canada's high-performance computing capability by connecting high-performance computing instrumentation and expertise through consortia such as WestGrid and AceNet, enabling researchers to maximize computing power and collaborative tools over the network.
  • Directly supports many research projects funded by federal and provincial agencies.

16. Why should Canada invest in the continued development of national advanced networking capability?    

The advanced networking capability provided by CANARIE is essential to keep Canadian research at the forefront of international innovation. The network allows Canada to maximize data-driven science and realize new innovations in all sectors, from the life sciences to the environment, energy, information and communications technologies, automotive, and aerospace.

The CANARIE network enables Canadian researchers to exchange, analyze and manage big data, and then apply their findings in meaningful ways. It also creates new opportunities to marry the network's capabilities with many other technologies that enable data-driven research, including sensors, data storage technologies, cloud computing and data analysis methodologies.

To remain competitive, Canada must:

  • Continually expand the advanced networking capabilities available to researchers
  • Connect more innovators, research facilities and communities within Canada and around the world, and enable them to conduct world-class science
  • Support the development of new technologies and approaches that allow researchers to fully exploit this capability in discovery research and development

17. How does CANARIE enable multidisciplinary research?    

CANARIE provides a platform for researchers in many scientific disciplines to collaborate effectively, enabling multidisciplinary research that leads to new discoveries and the creation of knowledge.

Without the advanced networking capability provided by CANARIE, many researchers would be:

  • Much more limited in how they could share and manage information among collaborators
  • Less productive, as it would take them more time and money to achieve specific research tasks or experiments
  • Unable to analyze or use the data that is generated from billions of dollars of scientific equipment and instrumentation across Canada and around the world

CANARIE allows researchers to push the frontiers of science and unleash their imagination by providing the advanced networking capability that helps them to realize their ideas.


18. How does CANARIE enable Canada to collaborate with the world?    

CANARIE brings together great minds, technologies and research facilities in Canada with others around the world, enabling multinational teams to harness their collective expertise and collaborate on internationally important research challenges.


  • Connects to 100 international peer networks in more than 100 countries
  • Enables Canadian researchers to collaborate with scientists around the world in data-intensive research fields such as stem cell and regenerative medicine, defence and security, energy and natural resources

Given the challenges of our current economy, international R&D collaboration is an increasing priority for the Government of Canada-and one that is reiterated by expert advisors such as the Science and Technology Innovation Council (STIC).


19. How does CANARIE enable the development of highly qualified personnel?    

CANARIE is helping to revolutionize the delivery of education, connecting researchers, professors and students at every university in Canada and enabling new ways to train the next-generation of highly qualified people, who join companies, create policy or educate leaders of the future.

For example, the advanced networking capability provided by CANARIE is enabling the delivery of a three-dimensional anatomy course to multiple students in different regions, at the same time. This program allows professors, researchers and students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to view and manipulate the most comprehensive collection of high-definition cadaver dissections in the world-stored at Stanford University in California.


20. Can Canadian businesses use CANARIE as well?    

In April 2011, CANARIE launched the Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR) Program.

DAIR provides small and medium sized ICT companies with a robust research and development environment to help them move Canada’s best ideas quickly from the research lab to the factory floor.

Canadian digital entrepreneurs now have access to the CANARIE Network and the tools to help them move their ideas quickly to market.