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Industry Telecommunications network
Headquarters Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Key people
Jim Ghadbane (President and CEO)

CANARIE is a Canadian government-supported non-profit corporation, founded in 1993, which maintains a set of leased wide area network links for the transfer of very large data files. The core network consists of 19000 km of fibre optic cable capable of speeds as high as 100 Gbit/s but generally operated at 10 Gbit/s. In 2008, it was the second fastest national network in the world, behind the United States.[1] The network is used primarily for education and research bodies across Canada, with links to similar networks at the provincial level or in other countries. The network was originally called CA*Net or CAnet, and the company name was originally an acronym for Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry and Education.


The original CAnet was created in 1990 with support from the National Research Council. It was in 1993 that CANARIE was involved in its operations as the network had upgraded its links to 56 kbit, to 10 Mbit/s in 1995, and then later to 20 Mbit/s. It had 100 Mbit/s aggregate capacity in 1996, and the same year the National Test Network (NTN) project introduced ATM.

In 1997, the company Bell Advanced Communications (later Bell Nexxia, now part of Bell Canada) was given operating control over the network operations. The CAnet II was launched based on NTN links and capacities, OC-3 (155 Mbit/s) at the core. At exactly the same time, Sympatico "DSL" service started, and appeared to use the same links.

In 1998, CANARIE deployed CA*Net 3, the world's first national optical Internet research and education network. The planned capacity of the network was 40 Gbit/s. In 2002, the Government of Canada committed $110 million to CANARIE to build and operate CAnet 4. CAnet 4, yields a total initial network capacity of between 160 Gbit/s and 320 Gbit/s, or four and eight times its predecessor. CAnet 4 is based on OC-192 optical circuits.

CANARIE also funds research and development projects on a competitive basis; these projects must be carried out by Canadian companies in Canada. One of the technologies CANARIE is developing is User Controlled Light Path (UCLP) switching.

At the SuperComputing conference in Seattle, WA, in November 2011, CANARIE participated in the transfer of 1 petabyte of data between the California Institute of Technology and the University of Victoria at a combined rate of 186 Gbit/s, setting a world record.[2]

In February 2012, CANARIE added a Content Delivery Service, to provide research and educational (R&E) institutions with faster access to Internet-based content, like learning-delivery systems and cloud-computing services.[3] The Content Delivery Service is enabled through settlement-free peering, in which organizations choose to make their Internet content available at no charge.


Headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, CANARIE maintains and modifies a set of leased wide area network links for educational and research organizations of Canada. CANARIE network is 19,000 km long and goes across Canada with links north as far as the Arctic Ocean. Satellite links are used to reach remote communities on the islands of the arctic. CANARIE partners with several companies in areas from the networking and technology industries. As of November 2010, CANARIE transferred an average of 6.6 petabytes of data per quarter.[4]

CANARIE Network as of November 20, 2012

CANARIE is used for long-haul only, the "last mile" is provided by its users, typically universities or research labs. More than one million researchers, scientists and students have access to the CANARIE Network, through 89 universities, 103 colleges, 47 Cegeps, 84 provincial and federal government labs and research parks, 58 hospitals and health networks, 31 cultural institutions, and thousands of K-12 schools across the country. It is also connected to 10 regional and 2 territorial research networks in Canada (refer to "Regional Partners" below) and to 100 international peer networks in 80 countries. 95% of Canada’s "big science" initiatives use the CANARIE Network, and 98% of the top 50 Canadian R&D universities are now connected.

As of 2003, the user list included:[5]

  • 89 universities, 101 colleges, and 47 CEGEPS
  • 86 provincial and federal government labs and research parks
  • 60 hospitals and health networks
  • 32 cultural institutions
  • thousands of K-12 schools
  • 12 provincial and territorial optical network partners
  • 100+ international peer networks in 80 countries and other partners in Canada's innovation system.
CANARIE's capacity as compared to other NRENs.

Programs and Services[edit]

CANARIE offers several funding and connection programs[6] for connecting to the R&E fibre-optic network as well as some services:[7]

  • Research Middleware Programs – include:
Network Enabled Platforms – funding program to assist in the development of applications that rely on the ultra-high-speed network; funding closed;
Research Platform Interfaces – a collection of platform services to be used by multiple research platforms
  • Legacy programs – include:
Lightpaths program is a dedicated point-to-point connection;
Legacy Infrastructure Extension Program (IEP) connects research and education facilities to the CANARIE network
  • Network Alliance Programs – include:
Network Alliance Infrastructure supports partners in Canada's network alliance in creating, extending or maintaining network infrastructure
Network Alliance Development Program provides funding to assist the Optical Regional Advanced Networks (ORANs; see "Regional Partners" below) in building or maintaining their networks
  • DAIR – the Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research – a cloud-computing testbed for ICT projects, targeting small and medium Canadian enterprises
  • Canadian Access Federation – CAF allows students and faculty from member institutions to access wifi networks at other member institutions
  • Content Delivery Service – CDS – provides access to content from approved providers for R&E institutions. The service is delivered on a dedicated network; CANARIE’s CDS IP Network that is logically separate from the CANARIE IP Network providing the R&E service. The peering relationship with a Content Provider (CP) can be established either through public Internet eXchanges Points (IXP) or private links.

Regional Partners[edit]

CANARIE works with similar high-speed fibre-optic networks in Canada's provinces and territories to provide connectivity across the country. Those networks are referred to as ORANs, Optical Regional Advanced Networks, and include the following:

Yukon: Yukon College
Northwest Territories: Aurora College
Nunavut: No network as of May 2013
British Columbia: BCNET
Alberta: Cybera
Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Research Network (SRnet)
Manitoba: Manitoba Education, Research and Learning Information Networks (MERLIN)
Ontario: Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION)
Quebec: Réseau d'informations scientifiques du Québec (RISQ)
New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island: NB/PEI Educational Computer Network (University of New Brunswick and University of Prince Edward Island)
Nova Scotia: Atlantic Canada Organization of Research Networks - Nova Scotia (ACORN-NS)
Newfoundland and Labrador: Atlantic Canada Organization of Research Networks (ACORN-NL)

Funding model[edit]

CANARIE receives funding in five-year blocks, so the current Government of Canada spending estimates for 2011–2012 in budget legislation tabled in the House of Commons on June 6, 2011.[8] indicate that CANARIE’s funding is to be retired. What this means is that this five-year funding block expires this year (i.e., March 2012). CANARIE will apply for another five-year funding block, which will be included in the March 2012 budget.[9][10]

This item was reported on CBC Radio News as having been passed on June 13, 2011.

Aside from government funding, the only other revenues in 2009–2010 were less than $500,000 obtained from membership fees and royalties.

The Government of Canada invested $40 million in CANARIE in March 2012. In August 2012, this amount was further confirmed to $62 million for three years.[11]

The Government of Canada renewed its investment in CANARIE by proposing to provide $105 million over five years starting in 2015–2016 as part of the Economic Action Plan 2015.[12]


External links[edit]