The incoming head of Canada’s CANARIE national research network says it could have the capability of running a coast-to-coast 100 Gbps backbone by March, 2105.

But Jim Ghadbane, who has been the carrier’s chief technology officer and takes over as CEO on Nov. 11, said it will only buy the dark fibre required if the needs of subscribers is there and not to show off.

“We wouldn’t do it as a hero demonstration,” he said in an interview Thursday. But “we believe there’s a need for the high-energy particle physics (projects) that will ultimately connect to CERN Switzerland when the Large Hadron Collider comes back online.”

“We’ve talked to a number of researchers who are starting to bang down our door for 100 G connectivity — the work on high energy physics, the research work in cancer with genomics — the collaboration these people want to do is on a global scale. We need to be able to move data from continent to continent at very high rates.”

It already has a 100 Gbps link from Montreal to New York, is part of an international 100G transatlantic pilot with other research networks, and is planning a similar link between Calgary and Edmonton.

Ghadbane will succeed Jim Roche, who has held the position on an interim basis.

Since joining CANARIE Ghadbane has led a number of strategic initiatives including the launch of the network’s DAIR cloud computing service for entrepreneurs, its research middleware program and the create of its software development team.

The three- year DAIR program is aimed at encouraging small and mid-sized companies to use cloud services more. But, he said “in spite of the spur that CANARIE is providing we still think that Canada is lagging” in cloud adoption.

Part of that is due to the cost of Internet service here, he said, which is higher than in some countries. “We don’t have a major [infrastructure as a service] cloud provider,” he added, in part because Canada has a relatively small population. And SMBs may need to be educated more on the merits of cloud computing, he said.

CANARIE also works with other players in the telecommunications industry with Ottawa on ways Canada drive the knowledge economy. Asked if it hurts the country not to have a digital strategy, which has been long-promised by the Harper government, he diplomatically replied that “It’s tough in imagine how we benefit from not having one.”

Ghadbane previously worked at Bridgewater Systems (now part of Amdocs), Ceyba Corp., Alcatel Corp., and Newbridge Networks.

Established in 19993, CANARIE provides a backbone that connects provincial and territorial research networks like British Columbia’s BCnet and Ontario’s ORION. It also connects to other networks around the world.  It also runs the Canadian Access Federation service, which allows users to connect via Wi-Fi.

It estimates one million researchers and students at over 1,100 Canadian institutions – from hospitals to universities to government labs – access the network.

Some 84,000 TB of data will go over its network this year, the carrier estimates. That will hit 127,000 TB by the end of next year and over 190,000 TB by the end of 2015.

Although it charges a fee to members, most of its funding comes from the federal government.

“Jim has demonstrated tremendous leadership during his tenure as CANARIE’s chief technology officer,” board chairman Grant Farmer said in a statement. His understanding of the carrier’s stakeholders, and its role in supporting Canadian innovation means it will continue to move forward on a number of strategic initiatives “without missing a beat,” said Farmer, who is also strategic outsourcing solution executive at IBM Canada Ltd.

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