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Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Communications Research Centre

The Communications Research Centre (CRC) is the federal government’s primary laboratory for research and development (R&D) in advanced telecommunication systems and technologies, with a particular focus on the efficient exploitation of radio frequency (RF) spectrum.

Research Priorities

Grand Challenge R&D forms a large part of the CRC’s R&D program. It is designed to address solutions for sustainable spectrum management. The CRC also performs Direct Client Support R&D and Wireless Technology Foresighting.

Grand Challenge R&D

The CRC is pursuing three Grand Challenges that are critical to realizing the technology solutions for sustainable spectrum management.

The results of this research support spectrum management policy, program and regulatory development, so that Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) may continue to maximize the benefits that Canadians derive from the use of radio frequency spectrum.

The CRC’s Grand Challenges are Spectrum Environment Awareness, Making Better Use of Spectrum, and Breaking the Frequency Barrier.

Spectrum Environment Awareness

The Spectrum Environment Awareness (SEA) Grand Challenge is demonstrating, via a prototype and test bed, what a future national spectrum monitoring and surveying system would be capable of achieving. The prototype system contains five main functions: smart sensing, aggregation and analysis, intelligent tasking, spectrum analytics and visualization.

Among their projects, members of the SEA team develop and integrate software applications and protocols to wirelessly relay big data on spectrum from sensors. They also build visualization tools to interpret the data and analyze the findings in order to facilitate decision making.

Making Better Use of Spectrum

The Making Better Use of Spectrum (MBUS) Grand Challenge is investigating new technologies and techniques to enable more effective use of the spectrum, such as shared use of spectrum in both licensed and license-exempt bands. Using results from the SEA prototype, MBUS involves building test beds and prototypes of sharing environments enabled by cognitive radio and dynamic spectrum access radio technologies, as well as small cells.

As an example of their work, MBUS team members study the coexistence of systems, such as LTE-U/LAA and Wi-Fi systems, including interference and performance characteristics. They also demonstrate the effectiveness of networking coordination techniques needed to facilitate sharing, using computer simulations.

Breaking the Frequency Barrier

The Breaking the Frequency Barrier (BFB) Grand Challenge is studying the feasibility of broadband mobile communications above 6 GHz using innovations such as advanced antenna technology and printed electronics for new engineered surfaces. BFB also capitalizes on MBUS research to determine how these higher frequency communications channels can be shared.

An initial focus requires BFB team members to fully understand how radio signals propagate in various scenarios at higher frequency bands, where the propagation channel is much more complex due to greater spatial variation. With this information, they can develop next generation wireless communication protocols and architectures.

Big Data Analytics Centre

To facilitate the work of all three Grand Challenges, ISED has a Big Data Analytics Centre at the CRC to showcase and experiment with the technologies and systems that are being developed through this research. It is a state-of-the-art centre with advanced visualization capabilities, high capacity connections to cloud services, and interconnections with the research prototypes and demonstration systems.

Direct Client Support R&D

The CRC’s Direct Client Support R&D contributes to a wide range of wireless communications issues, including policy, regulations, standards and operations. This R&D supports ISED’s Spectrum and Telecommunications sector, as well as other government departments and agencies whose operations depend strategically on spectrum, such as the Department of National Defence and Public Safety Canada.

Public safety communication provides a good example of the type of R&D carried out as part of Direct Client Support. Using a live captive LTE network located in Ottawa, CRC researchers are developing the specifications for a broadband wireless LTE network to serve Canada’s public safety community. This involves extensive planning, configuring, and testing various LTE network components, as well as evaluating performance.

Wireless Technology Foresighting

The Wireless Technology Foresighting function develops forecasts into broader wireless technology directions and trends, and assesses the impacts of relevant government regulation, policy and research issues.

The Foresighting team reviews research findings from a wide range of sources, both internal and external. They analyze this information and provide insight to help ensure key stakeholders are aware of emerging trends and issues.


The CRC is a client-driven, applied research centre with expertise extending from wireless technologies, to applications and performance. Teams of experts from across the organization assemble to address research priorities.

Wireless technologies:

  • network technologies
  • propagation and antennas
  • information processing

Applications and performance:

  • performance evaluation
  • radio technologies
  • network applications

The CRC’s Chief Technology Office is home to additional, cross-cutting expertise and systems knowledge that serves to advance over-arching R&D priorities.

CRC Contact

Dr. Aldo Petosa
Senior Research Scientist
Tel.: 613-991-9352
Fax: 613-991-4378

Communications Research Centre
3701 Carling Avenue
P.O. Box 11490, Station H
Ottawa, Ontario
K2H 8S2

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