CANARIE Upgrades Innovation Corridor Between Calgary and Edmonton

Ultra-high-speed network now upgraded with sophisticated equipment to help propel innovation in Alberta and across Canada.

[Calgary, AB | 10 May 2012] CANARIE, Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network, today announced that a critical corridor of the fibre-optic network for research, education, and innovation has been upgraded to reduce costs, increase bandwidth, and improve agility in responding to user requirements.

Upgrading the corridor between Calgary and Edmonton represents an important step in CANARIE’s drive to support connectivity in Canada’s north and remote regions.


The upgraded corridor is a “reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer (ROADM)” system and required the installation of state-of-the-art equipment at the terminal points of the fibre-optic cable.

This allows for:

  • Reduced Costs: The equipment upgrade reduces costs. Rather than acquiring additional circuits as network traffic increases, the system can be configured to handle more traffic using existing fibre.
  • Dramatically Increased Bandwidth: The equipment upgrade supports multiple wavelengths of light, simultaneously, allowing up to 44 channels, initially at 10 Gbps (Gigabits per second) but migrating to 100 Gbps, for a combined capacity of up to 4.4 Tbps (Terabits per second) using current optical communications technology.
  • Agility: CANARIE can increase capacity with very quick turnaround as the need arises. New equipment is simply added at the end points to increase capacity allowing the network to more quickly respond to the dynamic nature of scientific traffic.

The upgrade to a ROADM system is part of the planned evolution of the CANARIE network to ultimately enable delivery of 100 Gbps capability across Canada. CANARIE supports two ROADM networks – one that connects major hubs in western Canada, and another that connects major points in Ontario and Quebec. The next anticipated upgrade will be between Winnipeg, MB and Thunder Bay, ON.

Upgrading the network capacity is essential, in order to keep up with the rapidly increasing needs of researchers and innovators. Data-intensive research is becoming the norm, being driven by:

  • proliferation of sensor networks and the continuous stream of data they create
  • use of sophisticated medical imaging for research
  • genomics and proteomics-based research
  • increasing digitization of research in the fields of the humanities and social sciences
  • new global scientific initiatives like the Square Kilometre Array, which will create data streams that will dwarf the largest databases researchers are using today.

This corridor also creates an improved CANARIE “spur” to northern Canada, providing much-needed digital infrastructure to support research and innovation in some of Canada’s most remote geographies.

Over the past several years, traffic over the CANARIE network has increased by an average of over 50% per year. This growth trend, expected to continue in future years, will require regular upgrades to network capacity.


“CANARIE is already planning for the future needs of the research and innovation community,” states Jim Roche, President and CEO of CANARIE. “It’s our job to ensure that Canada has the national network infrastructure – both now and in the future – to enable research that solves problems in health, energy and resource management, among many other areas. We saw a 60% increase in data transfer over our network in 2011-12. This is an indicator of how increasingly data-intensive and collaborative research and innovation have become.”

“Biocomputing initiatives are unleashing innovation in areas as diverse as personalized medicine, sustainable livestock, and agricultural industries. This work produces massive amounts of data – information that needs to be shared among many users provincially, nationally, and internationally,” points out Dr. Jonathan Schaeffer, Vice Provost and Associate Vice President (Information Technology) at the University of Alberta. “As one of the top research universities in Canada, the University of Alberta is critically dependent on a leading-edge computer network for enabling this kind of research and collaboration.”


100 Gbps is 18,000 times faster than a broadband connection, so fast you could download about 1,000 movies in one minute or an entire year’s worth of data from the Hubble telescope in less than ten minutes.

CANARIE’s network is so fast and so cutting-edge that it was recently used to break a world record for data transfer speeds at the SuperComputing conference in November 2011.

CANARIE works with partners in each province and territory to provide connectivity for research and innovation across Canada. In Alberta, that partner is Cybera, a not-for-profit organization that works to spur and support innovation, for the economic benefit of Alberta, through the use of cyberinfrastructure.


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For more information, please contact:

Wynn Anne Sibbald
Communications Manager
(613) 943-5432


CANARIE Inc. is Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network. Established in 1993, CANARIE manages an ultra high-speed network that supports leading-edge research and big science across Canada and around the world. One million researchers, scientists and students at over 1,100 Canadian institutions, including universities, colleges, research institutes, hospitals, and government laboratories have access to the CANARIE Network. Together with 12 provincial and territorial advanced network partners, CANARIE enables researchers to share and analyze massive amounts of data, like climate models, satellite images, and DNA sequences that can lead to groundbreaking scientific discoveries. CANARIE is a non-profit corporation supported by membership fees, with the major investment in its programs and activities provided by the Government of Canada.

CANARIE keeps Canada at the forefront of digital research and innovation, fundamental to a vibrant digital economy. For additional information, please visit: .

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