Delivered by the NRC's Advanced Electronics and Photonics Research Centre, the High-throughput and Secure Networks Challenge program is developing innovative technologies to enable network operators and service providers to offer secure, affordable, and high-speed internet services in rural and remote communities across Canada. Going beyond the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's universal service objective of 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload with unlimited data, the vision of this Challenge program is "1 Gb/s everywhere".
Research efforts will include basic materials, photonics and electronic devices and components, system architectures, cybersecurity, quantum technologies, metrology and artificial intelligence. The High-throughput and Secure Networks Challenge program is working to provide significant advances across the following 4 research themes:
Optical satellite communications
This research theme focusses on research and development that supports increased capacity of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations and their complementary ground infrastructure. The projects will work to develop and improve existing photonic and optical components and systems, and customize them for satellite optical links (ground to satellite, satellite to ground, and inter-satellite), and on-board satellite data transport and processing. In parallel, projects will look at improving complementary aspects of network optimization, such as caching, peering and use of artificial intelligence for network management and support.
The High-throughput and Secure Networks Challenge program, in collaboration with the Satellite Canada Innovation Network, signed a 5-year consortium agreement in November 2019 with 16 Canadian organizations to create the Optical Satcom Consortium, and memberships continues to evolve. This collaboration aims to excel R&D for satellite communications to improve telecommunication networks in rural and remote regions across Canada.
Quantum and cybersecurity
This research theme will focus on the research and development of both software and hardware-based solutions for next-generational cyber solutions for satellite and free-space networks. The program will focus on developing solutions to counter security threats that will result from the advent of quantum computers. This research will aim at developing quantum-resistant algorithm software solutions for post-quantum cryptography over imperfect channels. Eventually, the goal with this research will be to demonstrate high-dimensional quantum key distribution links for next-generation, free-space communications.
Photonics for fiber and fixed wireless
This research theme aims to enable reliable and secure internet connectivity through optical communications via optical fibres or fixed wireless networks. Improvements such as higher speed and lower energy consumption/cost will be achieved through the Challenge program's and collaborators' expertise in component design, fabrication, and networks. Technological areas of interest include: quantum-dot lasers, high-speed networks, photodetectors, silicon photonics, radio frequency over fibre, and passive optical network technologies to enable fixed wireless access deployment, cheap and portable directional antennas, and artificial intelligence network agents for reduced human intervention in network management and maintenance.
Network metrology and timing
This research theme will deliver tools for disseminating high-accuracy time signals across wide and remote geographic areas to produce high-quality internet service. Providing accurate time signals over the internet in rural and remote communities is an essential part of all high-speed data communication protocols, e-commerce transactions, and government operations.
The technological advances will contribute to improve the know-how in relevant technology platforms and will be transferred to industry and implemented within telecommunication networks. The High-throughput and Secure Networks Challenge program will focus on technologies that help the realization of its vision: to provide the Canadian telecommunication ecosystem with the tools necessary to deploy networks capable of delivering fast and secure internet services to users all across Canada.