Feds launch wireless research lab in Ottawa to maximize wireless spectrum

Wireless

The federal government says a new research lab that aims to get the most of out the country's finite wireless spectrum will eventually help Canadians avoid more dropped calls, spotty reception and hefty smartphone bills.

Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains says the suburban Ottawa laboratory, located on Carling Avenue, east of Herzberg Road, will use new technologies like big data analytics and artificial intelligence as it searches for ways to make more efficient use of the economically critical wireless spectrum.

Bains says spectrum management is crucial because wireless data traffic is expected to increase 1,000 times by 2020, which will apply significant pressure on the country's infrastructure.

He says the radio waves are a public resource that underpin all modern communications – everything from TV and radio broadcasting to phone service and wireless data.

Bains says one of the goals is to locate unused radio waves in real time and put that surplus capacity to work.

That will mean benefits for consumers, he says.

"We're going to use technology to maximize spectrum and what that means is more competition, that means better service and better price points for consumers," Bains said Monday at an opening event for the Big Data Analytics Centre, which will be operated by the federal Communications Research Centre in Shirleys Bay.

"More people use more data and that puts enormous pressure on our infrastructure. . . . How can we manage that more efficiently?"

The lab was established following a 2014-15 federal commitment of $900,000.