Calgary Economic Development’s study 5G and Connectivity explores Calgary’s potential to be Canada’s most connected city as a centre for 5G development and application. A fact sheet about the future of 5G for Calgary’s connectivity can be found on the Technology sector page.
While the full potential of 5G is yet to be realized, this next generation of connectivity promises greater speed to move more data, lower latency for higher responsiveness and the ability to connect far more devices and sensors at once.
Calgary Economic Development’s first New Economy LIVE event of 2021 showcased Calgary’s position as a leader in connectivity in Canada, with digital riches and a supportive innovation ecosystem to become a hub for 5G development and application.
“5G has arrived in cities in Canada and around the world, but a lot of this is still very much in development – there’s still a lot that is to unfold,” says Dr. Gregory Taylor, Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Media and Film, University of Calgary, and the author of the Calgary Economic Development commissioned 5G and Connectivity study.
“One thing that we do know is that it does have the potential to make great changes in our lives and our communications system, the other main thing is that municipalities are now jumping into the fore when it comes to discussions about this new technology, in ways they weren’t in other generations,” said Dr. Taylor.
For 5G to work, fibre optic wires are required, and this is where Calgary stands out from the crowd. Calgary has the most extensive network in Canada and a wealth of dark fibre, with private sector and municipal fibre optic networks that enhance delivery of 5G. The City of Calgary has built a 550-kilometre fibre optik network extending to all quadrants of the city.
“Cities have huge network requirements. The LRT network is much different than the water services network, which is much different from the police network, but they all need common infrastructure – fibre optics,” said David Basto, Lead Fibre Optic Planner at the City of Calgary.
Access to streetlight posts and other city-owned infrastructure are required to provide the short-radius, high data volume needed to realize the applications of 5G.
“We need to get 5G deployed cost-effectively and that means working closely with our wireless service providers (WSPs) to streamline that process, and to create standards and practices that reduce costs,” said Basto.
Calgary is leading the national movement for a coordinated effort to standardize the 5G policy process. The City has worked with wireless service providers to create guidelines and processes to test 5G, including drafting an open access policy for smaller wireless service providers to access the infrastructure.
Calgary also built one of North America’s first municipally owned Long Range Low Power Wide-Area Networks (LoRaWAN).
“This network gives Calgarians the ability and opportunity to test and experiment with the Internet of Things (IoT) as 5G becomes more widely adopted,” said Barney Barnowski, Vice President, Sales Americas and America Pacific, at TEKTELIC Communications. “It’s not like we have to wait for 5G to suddenly appear, we’re already doing a lot of the work that’s required. We’re laying the groundwork for a lot of the solutions that are going to be happening.”
TEKTELIC Communications helped build Calgary’s LoRaWAN network and sees the economic potential of 5G’s applications across industries, with solutions yet to be discovered.
“Over the last four years, we’ve had the opportunity to work with the City of Calgary on a number of innovative smart city municipal use cases. Simple things like providing IoT infrastructure at the Devonian Gardens so that horticulturalists can monitor plant health, water level monitoring in manholes for safety, and tracking golf carts; to more recent solutions like contact tracing and air quality monitoring,” said Barnowski.
With a municipal fibre network, digital action plan, and supportive public policy, Calgary scored high across the board for 5G preparedness and has an opportunity to make the claim to be Canada’s most connected city.
“Our future largely depends on the adoption of technology, the deepening of our talent pool and of course the strengthening of our innovation ecosystem…5G is an arrow in our economic development quiver," said Patrick Mattern, Vice President of Business Development at Calgary Economic Development.
The complimentary New Economy Live webinar on March 12 drew over 130 attendees to explore the Innovation pillar of the economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy.