Rogers Doubles Investment in B.C. 5G Blueprint

The next generation of mobile technology is slowly in the process of rolling out around the world.

Rogers has announced their next step in bringing 5G technology to Canada. The telecom giant will double its investments on the west coast of Canada, expanding their LTE network, boosting their fibre optic network in Vancouver, and laying the groundwork to roll out 5G across B.C.

“Investment in B.C.’s infrastructure will not only connect people in B.C., it will help local businesses thrive, and enable governments and critical services to save time, money, and lives,” said Jorge Fernandes, CTO at Rogers. “Partnerships are instrumental to our plans to bring next generation technology to B.C. Together with UBC, we will continue to test real-world applications for 5G, and invest in top researchers and students so that we can bring Canadians the best that 5G has to offer.”

A large chunk of this new investment will go into Rogers partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC). Last year, the two announced a multi-million dollar agreement to build a 5G hub that will steadily study the rollout of the new technology, especially as it relates to smart cities. The distinct areas Rogers and UBC will focus on are autonomous vehicles, machine learning, AI and network slicing technology for use in robotics, farming, and medical applications.

With this new money, UBC will support the Clean, Connected and Safe Transportation Testbed, an initiative that looks at how 5G will affect vehicle safety, fuel efficiency, and traffic management. Beyond this, the money will also go towards better understanding how 5G devices communicate with one another, with the hopes of discovering better ways to reduce interference from congested devices all emitting the same types of signals.

The Clean, Connected and Safe Transportation Testbed project has five distinct laboratories, with each one studying a different area relating to sustainable transportation. the five areas of study are renewables to transportation, low carbon fuels, autonomous connected vehicles, safe and connected infrastructure, and smart city design. UBC students will have the opportunity to participate in research projects and co-develop solutions with Rogers.

“Our first grand challenge is to link intermittent, renewable energy to clean transportation and to low- or zero-carbon fuel production,” said Dr. Walter Mérida in late-2017 when funding for the testbed project was first secured. Mérida is the director of the Clean Energy Research Centre at UBC, the department in charge of the test bed.

“The second challenge is to enable transportation services that are securely connected not only to users and autonomous vehicles, but also to the underlying infrastructure. The third challenge is to ensure that new technologies, processes and practices are safe and resilient as the world moves to live in smart, healthy cities.”

In terms of technology that will have a massive impact in the next five years, 5G is up there with AI and quantum computing. There have been numerous investments in the sector, including the notable ENCQOR project, a $400 million initiative between the government as well as companies like IBM, Thales and Ericsson. Other companies including Nokia and Cisco are also working to roll out 5G solutions in Canada.

A 2018 report from Accenture indicated that adoption of 5G technology could add 250,000 jobs and $40 billion to Canada’s economy.