Ontario invests millions in education network

With deployment underway to build out the largest optical research network in the country, project planners got an extra boost Monday when they were granted more than $5 million in provincial government funding.

Ontario Premier Ernie Eves, awarded the Optical Regional Advanced Network of Ontario (ORANO), a non-profit organization designed to build and maintain ORION, $5.8 million to further the roll-out of the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION). Upon completion, ORION will span more than 3,700 kilometres and connect 21 Ontario communities, 43 post-secondary institutions and more than 50 publicly funded research institutions.

The ORION network is expected to bring the capabilities of Canada’s advanced Internet development organization, CANARIE’s CA*net4 – the country’s national research network – on a provincial scale, offering wavelength capacities of 10Gbps up to 320Gbps using Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) transmission capabilities. The network will also utilize Layer 3 routing to enable real-time, high-bandwidth applications including grid-computing.

ORION, a five-year, $32.3 million SuperBuild initiative, is being deployed by Bell Canada and its partners including Hydro One Telecom Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Nortel Networks Ltd.

The $5.8 million fund is the province’s contribution to ensure Ontario’s research and education institutions are able to connect locally and internationally in order to participate in global research projects, said David Turnbull, Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation associate minister with the Eves government. The network is also expected to put Ontario at the forefront of global research and scientific and medical discoveries.

According to Phil Baker, president and CEO of ORANO in Toronto, the government funding will go specifically toward barriers that have posed a problem in completing the ORION roll-out. Baker said local loops in the 21 communities have made it difficult to get to the points of presence (POPs) as some areas require infrastructure upgrades and several organizations wish to have fibre access to the POPs. He said that with the help of the government funding, ORANO is able to contribute more than 50 per cent to the communities for POP upgrade projects.

So far, the first leg of Orion is now complete connecting Laurentian University in Sudbury to York University in Toronto.

“We are really excited,” Baker said. “We are pretty far along (now). We will have 90 per cent of the network fully operational by the end of June.”

For details visit www.orano.com.