Through CANARIE researchers in one end of the country can connect to another. It also allows Canadian researchers to connect to international projects, such as the CERN particle physics laboratory in Switzerland.
Annual traffic continues to increase. For the fiscal 2011-2012 year it was just over 45 Terrabytes.
CANARIE doesn’t need the consent of its partners to start charging connection fees. And it could defy Ottawa. But there will be consequences, it says, if it can’t make up the $3 million a year: Network upgrade plans might be delayed, the funds it gives provincial
networks might drop forcing institutions to find money elsewhere see a reduction in funding, and Ottawa might cut back its funding more.
One of the things Roche would like to do is buy more dark fibre, which can be lit by the agency when needed by its own equipment. That lowers the cost of buying bandwidth.
More importantly, Roche says, some institutions might drop out of CANARIE and buy their connectivity from commercial carriers.
He has suggested three connection fee options:
--A fee based on full time students and research budgets. So, for example, in the first year the four heaviest users of the network and 24 universities with more than $100 million in research finding would pay $25,000, and $50,000 the next year.
But users like TRIMF, located on the campus of UBC would pay a fee on top of what the university pays.
There’s risk small institutions who have little benefit from CANARIE will chose not to pay;
--Usage based billing. Those who transmit more than 500 TB (seven institutions) would pay $100,000 the first year, $150,000 the second.
There’s a risk institutions would cut back research or impose bandwidth restriction on researchers.
--Charge each provincial research network for connectivity based on population or amount of research performed in the province. Under this proposal Ontario, the biggest province, would pay $577,000 in first year and $1.154 in the second based on population, or $685,500 the first year and $1.37 million based on research.
This model puts the responsibility for CANARIE’s cost recovery in the hands of its provincial/territorial research network partners, a CANARIE discussion paper notes, yet CANARIE is responsible for cost recovery to the government of Canada. “This model therefore presents some accountability issues which may not be easily solvable,” the paper says.