Ottawa and Provinces Invest $400 Million To Develop 5G Wireless Networks

The federal government in Ottawa, along with the provincial governments of Ontario and Quebec, are investing $400 million to develop 5G wireless networks that promise to be 100 times faster than the 4G wireless that is currently available to businesses and consumers.

The Canadian governments are allocating millions of dollars to a public-private investment that will create a corridor of 5G wireless test beds through Canada’s two most populous provinces (Ontario and Quebec), aimed at giving companies a chance to experiment with new ideas and products that are only now becoming possible thanks to recent breakthroughs in telecommunications technology.

While many estimate it will take years before 5G is widely rolled out to the Canadian mass market, it’s being billed as the wireless backbone to futuristic technologies including driverless cars, remotely controlled complex surgeries with download speeds up to 100 times faster than today’s 4G wireless networks.

“5G is the gateway to the future and we are just on the brink of this technological revolution,” Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said Monday at a funding announcement held in Ottawa.

The new project is called ENCQOR — Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Quebec and Ontario for Research and Innovation — and will allow an estimated 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses to plug into an early 5G platform for research and development purposes.

Ontario, Quebec and the federal government have each pledged about $67 million, while the remaining $200 million will come from five private-sector partners. Ericsson, Ciena Canada, Thales Canada, IBM Canada and CGI will lead the public-private partnership, which is expected to secure more than 4,000 jobs, 1,800 of which will be specialized in 5G network technology.

Ottawa estimates that information and communications technology contributed $76 billion to the country’s gross domestic product in 2017. Last month, Bell and Huawei announced a trial launch of so-called wireless-to-the-home technology that’s being seen as a precursor to how 5G wireless would extend the availability of high-speed internet access. Rather than having sparsely populated rural areas wired for internet access, a wireless transmitter can establish a connection with nearby homes that are outfitted with the right modem.