BCNet taps Telus for optical network rollout

Key research facilities and universities in British Columbia will soon be able to transmit data to one another over a super-fast network as a result of three contracts BCNet has signed with Telus


BCNet is a non-profit organization which promotes advanced networks for research use in the province. Its Optical Regional Advanced Network (ORAN), enabled by Telus, will provide OC-48 network (speeds up to 2 gbps) connectivity between Vancouver, Prince George and Victoria. Institutions benefiting from that connectivity include the University of British Columbia, the University of Northern British Columbia, the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University.

“”Most of the other research universities across the country and in the States are on these high-speed networks. What we’ve heard from the researchers in the city of Prince George is they desperately need that kind of connectivity to the north. We were able to get that done with Telus,”” said Michael Hrybyk, president and CEO, BCNet.

ORAN will also allow the universities to connect to Canarie’s national advanced research network, CA*net4. “”If they want to partake in a national or international project with dedicated bandwidth across the country, they’ll be able to do that on this link,”” said Hrybyk.

BCNet has arrived at a slightly different solution for connectivity than other provinces, according to Hrybyk. Rather than having terminations from all connections end in Vancouver, BCNet has insisted on local loops in all participating cities, so each university gets transit service in its local community.

If a data packet is bound for a university, it will flow through the OC-48 network, which is expressly dedicated to research traffic. “”It’s a pragmatic approach to how do you get high-speed networking out to all of these sites without buying a dedicated network for transit and a dedicated network for other things,”” said Hrybyk. “”We’ve solved our local loop problem.””

By orchestrating connectivity between universities, BCNet has effectively filled its mandate. From here, the non-profit will promote the use of sophisticated applications over the high-speed network, like videoconferencing and file-sharing. After all, said Hrybyk, it is one thing to provide bandwidth in spades but another to make sure it is being used effectively. BCNet may also attempt to promote its connectivity model in other provinces.

Bruce Matthews, director of strategic accounts for Telus, didn’t go that far. “”As a particular solution, we wouldn’t champion that per se,”” he said. “”BCNet had very specific requirements which we tried to meet and I’m assuming it meets their particular needs. They are a unique customer. I think BCNet is interested to see how it will play out as well.””

The model may not be applicable universally, said Matthews, and Telus had to do a lot of customization work as per BCNet’s instructions.

The OC-48 fibre will be lit late next month. Other research facilities, like teaching hospitals, will be added later.

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