ITAC proposes fibre-optic network to link borders

A fibre-optic network project to link Canada’s border crossings to assist with security and the timely movement of goods and people was proposed to the federal Industry Minister last month.

The project – called “Light Up the Border” – would link all 113 Canadian land border crossings and U.S. border points and was proposed by a committee of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) to Industry Minister Alan Rock. The committee was comprised of representatives from Bell Canada Ltd., Alcatel Canada Inc., Dell Canada, IBM Canada Ltd., International Data Corporation Canada, J.E.D. New Media, Lucent Technologies Inc., Microsoft Canada Co., Rogers Communications Inc., SOMA Networks and Telus Corp.

The network would deliver high bandwidth capability to border stations providing reliable capacity to process large volumes of information at all crossings.

Since Sept. 11, a strong emphasis has been placed on beefing up security with systems like biometrics, and pre-screening by customs officials to ensure quicker border crossings for goods and people. Both of these systems are information-intensive and would require a broadband network.

The proposed optic-optic network would be available to the busy border crossings, as well as the secondary stations, mainly located in rural areas. The network could also be extended to shipping ports and airports.

The approximate cost would be $164 million to link stations that do not currently have high-capacity connectivity.

The ITAC proposal could also assist the federal government with its initiative to deliver broadband services to rural communities by allowing communities adjacent to secondary border stations to become connected more quickly, the organization said in a statement.