Public-Private ENCQOR Project Will Invest $400 Million into Canada’s 5G Network

The Canadian government is making a serious push to become a global leader in 5G technologies.

The federal government, along with the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, has announced a public-private investment that will increase economic growth driven by 5G technology and lead to a huge influx of new jobs and increased connectivity. The five-year project, called ENCQOR (Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Quebec and Ontario for Research and Innovation), will see a total of $400 million worth of investments and create 4,000 middle-class jobs, including 1,800 specialized 5G jobs. It will also create jobs at the SME level throughout Ontario and Quebec.

“Technology is changing the way we live, work and engage with one another, and we are in a global innovation race,” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. “To prepare for the future, we must be bold, visionary and decisive. That’s why our government is investing in 5G technology. This investment in next-generation wireless technology will help make Canada a global innovation leader and secure 4,000 jobs.”

Bains went on to say that this is the world’s first public-private partnership in the 5G space.

The race to adopt 5G technology is one that everyone wins. It is an exponential improvement over 4G technology, as 5G has download speeds of up to 100 times faster than current infrastructure. When fully launched, 5G connections could offer up to 10 gigabits per second of download speed.

The technology focuses on connection and lets the massive and ever-growing number of wireless devices transmit information quicker and keep up. Mobile data traffic is expected to increase by 700 per cent from 2016 to 2021 and 5G technology will need to be implemented to keep up with the pace.

“This exciting 5G initiative will help our businesses here in Ontario—and across Canada—capitalize on the vast potential of high-speed communications technology to expand their horizons, accelerate their innovation, and transform the way we all live and do business,” said Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research, Innovation and Science.

As smart city projects and smart home products grow more popular, 5G will also enable better-sustained connection and communication between technologies.

ENCQOR is led by five global digital innovators: Ericsson, Ciena Canada, Thales Canada, IBM Canada and CGI. The government, along with SMEs and academics, will collaborate with these companies to help further develop and test 5G technology through linked research facilities in Ontario and Quebec. This network will give access to innovative technologies including programmable broadband networks, silicon photonics, big-data analysis and cloud computing.

“ENCQOR reflects the tireless commitment of Canada’s technology leaders working together with the federal government, and the Quebec and Ontario governments to bring next generation 5G technology to solutions that we rely on every day,” said Mark Halinaty, President and CEO of Thales Canada.

In terms of how each company factors into the 5G deployment network, Ericsson Canada will provide wireless broadband solutions; Ciene offers wired solutions; Thales Canada focuses on smart cities and mobility; IBM Canada provides components for next-generation networks; CGI offers smart grid services and solutions.

The Canadian federal government and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec will each contribute $66.7 million to ENCQOR for a total of $200 million. This will be matched by the private sector to reach the $200 million total. The amount each private company invested was not immediately available, nor was it disclosed if it will be evenly split like the public investments.

ENCQOR is among the first projects to receive funding from the Government of Canada’s $1.26-billion Strategic Innovation Fund. The provincial coordinators include  Prompt, CEFRIO, and Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE).

The big three telecom companies in Canada (Rogers, Bell and TELUS) have been testing their own 5G networks, but they are not expected to roll out until 2020. Some U.S. carriers have been testing out networks as well, and we could see those launch as soon as this year.