Ottawa launches 5G test site at City Hall

Announcement comes the same day Ottawa MP Catherine McKenna kicks off the federal government’s Smart Cities Challenge, a $75-million nationwide competition
5G

In an attempt to capitalize on coming next-generation network capabilities, the City of Ottawa is partnering with the federal government to set up a 5G testing site at City Hall.

Companies working on 5G technologies will be able to test and demonstrate their advances, and given the chance to collaborate with the feds’ Communications Research Centre.

According to experts, 5G communication is expected to be the next revolution in connectivity. Its higher speeds and smart bandwidth usage will improve connectivity in rural areas, as well as facilitating connected cities technologies such as autonomous vehicles.

This next-gen connectivity will require spectrum frequencies above 6 GHz. The CRC says the City Hall test site will make available bandwidths of 28 GHz, as well as specially engineered surfaces designed to redirect and capture these radio frequencies.

"This is the future! 5G will impact every aspect of society. It will allow billions of devices to connect better and faster,” said Minister of Science and Innovation Navdeep Bains in a statement.

5G city hall
The Communications Research Centre Canada's 5G base station at Ottawa City Hall (Industry Canada image)

“The test site will help to advance Canada's competitive advantage in 5G by giving innovators the ability to use the facility and showcase 5G wireless applications in Ottawa. I encourage companies from across Canada and from across the world to come and participate in Ottawa's 5G innovation eco-system."

Smart cities

The announcement comes the same day Ottawa MP Catherine McKenna will be at Bayview Yards today kick off the federal government’s Smart Cities Challenge, a $75-million nationwide competition to implement connected technologies to improve residents’ lives.

The challenge encourages cities to collaborate with industry and academia to solve issues such as inaccessible services, transit challenges and traffic congestion. Solutions should be scaleable to other cities around the country.

Challenge applications are due in April, with finalists announced that summer and winners announced the following spring. One city will win a $50-million prize, while two prizes of $10 million and one worth $5 million are reserved for municipalities with smaller populations.

Earlier this month, city staff charted a blueprint of their own for implementing smart city technologies in a report to the Finance and Economic Development Committee.

The report highlighted Ottawa’s already-extensive connectivity infrastructure and the work being done on 5G in the city by groups such as CENGN.

Other recommendations included utilizing artificial intelligence in optimizing city services, expanding access to public Wi-Fi and attracting new talent for Ottawa’s knowledge-based businesses.