Ottawa Day at Queen’s Park, Councillor Jan Harder
Earlier this year I was invited by the Mayor and Invest Ottawa to be part of a distinguished delegation of business leaders and politicians to participate in “Ottawa Day at Queen’s Park”. The purpose of the mission was to highlight why Ottawa is positioned to be a global leader in the transformation of the communication industry and the emerging market of autonomous vehicles. Today I would like to focus on what makes Ottawa the perfect place for this technology transformation to occur.
It is a very exciting time for the global communications sector as it is undergoing a transformation driven by the convergence of all content voice, video, data, mobility and the exponential growth of cloud based applications – commonly known as the “Internet of Everything.” The numbers in this industry are staggering. It is predicted that by 2020 there will be 50 billion M2M (machine to machine direct communication) devices with a projected market of $19 trillion. Canada accounts for $82 billion of the current global market of which over 50% is for communications equipment, services and software. Experts predict spending on network equipment is expected to grow annually by 20% over the next six years.
Canada is well placed to be a leader in driving this communications transformation. Canada has a long history of leadership in innovative communications technology. There is a strong research and development base in Canada’s companies and universities.
Ottawa specifically hosts high numbers of readily available talent – both new and serial entrepreneurs ready to create new products, applications and services. There is a unique opportunity to grow this capability as the industry moves from hardware, where Canada is traditionally strong, to software, creating an opportunity for new entrants into the network communications market.
You may not know but Ottawa is a global leader in the next-generation networks (NGN), in both software and hardware. The next-generation network (NGN) is a body of key architectural changes in telecommunication core and access networks. The general idea behind the NGN is that one network transports all information and services (voice, data, and all sorts of media such as video) by encapsulating these into IP packets, similar to those used on the Internet. NGNs are commonly built around the Internet Protocol, and therefore the term all IP is also sometimes used to describe the transformation of formerly telephone-centric networks toward NGN. Wow – total geek talk here but it is neat stuff – transformative technologies that will change our everyday lives.
In Ottawa there are over 1700 “high tech” companies employing close to 68,000 people. The entire NGN ecosystem is represented in Ottawa from chip development, advanced prototyping and manufacturing through to the applications. Most of the major equipment and service providers have a presence in Ottawa where 90% of Canada’s industrial telecoms R&D takes place. Ottawa is also home to 62 government labs and the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre (CPFC), the only pure play foundry of its kind in North America.
Ottawa boasts the largest industry technology park in Canada and has the second largest concentration of science and engineering employment out of 316 North American cities, surpassed only by Silicon Valley. The Ottawa region has the most educated workforce in Canada and has the highest concentration of post-secondary degrees in science and technology.
One of the main focuses on our visit to Queen’s Park was highlighting CENGEN – Canada’s Center of Excellence for Next-Generation Network. CENGEN is a not-for-profit organization head quartered in Ottawa, with a focus on the commercialization of next generation network (NGN) solutions. It is a consortium of industry, academic and research leaders, including Cisco, EWA, EXFO, Fujitsu, GENBAND, Juniper, Nokia, Rogers, Telus, Viavi, WindRiver, and Zayo. CENGN’s mission is to bridge the gap between research and commercialization, by providing an open testbed infrastructure for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), government and academia.
The CENGN smart infrastructure testbed would not only allow for the development and commercialization of networking technologies but become a testbed infrastructure for all use cases of the new digital economy: SG, loT, autonomous vehicles (AV), eFin, eHealth, SmartGrid, SmartAgri etc. are users of the flexible infrastructure that can be configured to the demands of the data. NGN technology can add the cost-effective flexibility required to the network. This also enables an open architecture that does not restrict access or usability.
The mission of the visit was to raise the profile of CENGEN and get the decision makers thinking into the future. Practically any technology, idea or innovation created today requires some level of connectivity. The major challenge in commercialization is to field-test technology with an accessible network. Current networks do not offer the flexibility of access. As the world moves to NGN (Google, Amazon and AT&T have already made this choice), Canadian technology must be able to prove their ideas work by being able to use the latest architecture and all levels of government must be ready to enable and adapt to this fast paced industry.