About CRC

The CRC helped to shape Canada’s telecommunications landscape. Building on its rich history, the CRC is focused on spectrum today, to extend the benefits of wireless telecommunications. Learn more about this unique organization in Canada’s innovation system.

Our origins

Kennedy antenna dish used by the CRC to receive telemetry from the ISIS satellites in the 1960s.

For over 40 years, the CRC has responded to a broad range of telecommunications challenges and opportunities unique to Canada's telecommunications landscape. From antennas to algorithms, broadcast to broadband, and satellites to software—the CRC has played a critical role in charting Canada's course in communications.

Canada's first satellite, Alouette 1, was largely designed, built and tested at the CRC 's Shirleys Bay Campus. Dr. John Chapman reveals the internal electronics of the satellite in 1962.

For example, CRC 's early satellite research led to the development of communications satellites used in broadcasting, search and rescue, and other applications serving Canadians today. CRC was the site of the first international terrestrial connection to ARPANET , precursor of the Internet. CRC 's discovery of photosensitivity in optical fibre led to the establishment of high-speed Internet and spurred the growth of Canada's optical communications industry. CRC research and testing were instrumental in the adoption of North America's digital television standard. More recently, CRC research was fundamental to establishing new loudness control standards for TV broadcasting.

Just as the Alouette satellite pioneers positioned Canada in space, a similar pioneering spirit is needed today, to navigate our nation through the coming era when demand for radio frequency ( RF ) spectrum puts pressure on its supply. The proliferation of mobile devices running bandwidth-hungry applications is putting pressure on this finite resource. A shortage could jeopardize not only personal and business communications, but public safety communications as well.

Technological solutions can help address the heavy demands being placed on spectrum. CRC 's expertise lies in the wireless technologies and techniques of tomorrow that are adept at sharing spectrum, mitigating interference, optimizing interoperability and overall, capitalizing on this valuable resource. Fundamental to the future are CRC 's advice and support to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, which manages spectrum, and to other government departments that rely heavily on wireless communications. Also important is our relationship with industry, academia and other research institutes for by working collaboratively, Canada will be better positioned to overcome the spectrum challenges on the horizon.

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Our Focus today

Wireless communication is revolutionizing the way we speak to each other, conduct business and organize our lives. Today, smartphones, GPS devices and wireless Internet connections are as indispensable as they are commonplace. Our reliance on wireless communication will only increase in the future. In fact, experts believe that by 2020, mobile data traffic will likely be 1,000 times what it is today!

At the Communications Research Centre ( CRC ), we recognize that this rapid growth in the use of mobile services poses a major challenge—the supply of radio frequency spectrum used to support wireless communication is limited. But it also presents a great opportunity. In Canada alone, the wireless industry contributes an estimated $50 billion to the economy, supports some 280,000 jobs, and inspires the innovation of new products and services.

As an integral component of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and its Spectrum and Telecommunications Sector, the CRC is ideally positioned to meet the challenges, so that Canadians can realize the opportunities offered by the growing use of wireless communication.

Since 1969, we have been Canada's primary advanced telecommunications applied research centre, working closely with partners in government, the private sector and academia.

In 2017, we opened the Big Data Analytics Centre, a state-of-the-art research lab with visualization tools that will allow us to perform leading-edge research.

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Our vision

As Canada's federal centre of excellence for wireless telecommunications R&D , be a leading contributor to solutions for wireless demand in a modern economy.

Our mission

  • Perform wireless telecommunications R&D that advances the efficient exploitation of the radio spectrum, and serves as the government's leading source of scientific knowledge and long-term technical advice for spectrum management, regulation and policy purposes;
  • Support critical wireless telecommunications operational requirements of Government of Canada departments and agencies, such as National Defence and Public Safety; and
  • Take part in strategic R&D collaborations that leverage CRC 's activities, resulting in knowledge and technology transfer, to the benefit of Canadian industry, the economy and Canadians.

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CRC is the federal government's primary laboratory for research and development in wireless technologies. It is a client-driven, applied research centre providing technical advice and support to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's Spectrum and Telecommunications Sector, the Department of National Defence, Public Safety Canada and other government organizations. When these clients address key national priorities, they use CRC 's independent and impartial research to support their policy, regulatory and technical decisions. Along with supporting government, CRC collaborates with industry, universities, and other research institutes on common goals.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

There has been an explosion in demand for wireless broadband services. But the conduits carrying these services—communications networks—use a finite resource: radio frequency spectrum.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada ( ISED ) regulates and manages spectrum to maximize the economic and social benefits that Canadians derive from this valuable resource. Officials must consider many complex factors, including:

  • How best to use available spectrum while accommodating new wireless services;
  • Whether new wireless services could interfere with existing services; and
  • Whether emerging technologies could disrupt existing technologies, and require regulatory change in the process.

To help ISED answer such questions, CRC conducts research spanning the range of its expertise: from the fundamentals of wireless technology; to the next stage of development, namely networks and systems; to the final phase encompassing applications, prototype development and performance.

CRC provides ISED with deep technical knowledge and recommendations to support key wireless drivers such as harmonization, economies of scale and interoperability. CRC actively supports and represents ISED at international standard-setting bodies, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ( IEEE ).

While the private sector plays a central role in investing in innovation, ISED leverages CRC R&D as one means of encouraging investment. Researchers from CRC collaborate with their counterparts in industry, academia and other research organizations to both advance the efficient use of spectrum, and provide flexible access to this resource in order to create opportunities for Canadian companies.

National Defence

From domestic disasters to multi-national missions abroad, Canada's military relies on robust and secure wireless communications. CRC works with the Department of National Defence ( DND ) and its research arm, Defence Research and Development Canada ( DRDC ), to provide improved operational capabilities to the Canadian Forces.

We collaborate closely with our DND - DRDC clients to address their communications challenges. These include:

  • Meeting growing communications demands in a limited spectrum environment;
  • Seamlessly networking different types of communications links, such as limited-bandwidth and high-bandwidth technologies;
  • Ensuring seamless communications between land, air and maritime forces, and with coalition forces; and
  • Managing voice and data traffic flow.

CRC is also capitalizing on opportunities presented by emerging communications technologies. Highly adaptive agile radios, for example, offer opportunities for more effective use of radio spectrum that are needed to satisfy the growing requirements for increased information flow in networked mobile operational environments.

CRC works on behalf of DND - DRDC with allied organizations and international standards bodies, including working groups of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ( NATO ) and The Technical Cooperation Program ( TTCP ). These collaborations stimulate leveraging of the R&D and the S&T knowledge of our allies. As well, CRC 's technical contributions help ensure that Canada's interests are reflected in any new standards related to interoperability, higher performance and robustness of radio communications networks.

Public Safety Canada

Effective communication is critical to public safety, national security and emergency preparedness agencies. Saving lives can depend on the ability of emergency responders to communicate.

CRC works with Public Safety Canada through the Interoperable Development Office to develop and test improved communications capabilities for Canada's first responder community. This work has resulted in:

  • a first responder test bed for wireless applications;
  • technologies to bridge communications gaps in existing equipment; and
  • significant research toward a complete rethinking of radio design, so future equipment is not affected by interoperability problems.

Interoperability issues arise when multiple forces respond to a crisis or disaster. Consider large-scale emergencies drawing on resources from across regions. As various fire, ambulance and police forces converge with their respective radios, they may not be able to communicate via distinct technologies.

At the network level, common standards and protocols are the most practical solutions. At the device level, a solution is software defined radio ( SDR ) technology. SDR transfers modulation and frequency functions from radio hardware to software, allowing radios to modify their mode of operation as required, without hardware changes. This revolutionary approach is likely to significantly alter how radios have been used since their inception over 100 years ago.

Other government organizations

Other government organizations that capitalize on CRC 's telecommunications R&D expertise include:

Industry, academia and other research institutes

Along with supporting government, CRC collaborates with industry, universities and other research institutes in pursuit of common goals. In the past five years, CRC has counted among its clients 160 companies, 20 universities and 20 research institutes.

Clients come to CRC because it is the only Canadian facility with the capability to create communication technology innovation starting from basic science, all the way through to prototype development and field deployment (testing), effectively covering all aspects of the technology innovation chain.

The examples are varied. Academic researchers in Canada and around the world are investigating interference with CORAL, the world's first Wi-Fi-based cognitive radio development platform, developed by CRC .

One leading Canadian company approached CRC for help in the design and enhancement of multi-antenna handsets. The company came to CRC given our cognitive radio experience, involvement in IEEE standards and expertise in wireless circuits and antenna systems. In another case, a Canada telecommunications carrier was exploring the possibility of building a wireless business case. It contracted with CRC to perform wireless product performance analyses and network design research.

In performing this research, CRC experts used their extensive test bed infrastructure. In 2012, for instance, CRC collaborated with an industry partner to add an LTE network to its existing wireless test network, covering more than 100 km2 in the west end of Ottawa. This is one of the first LTE wireless test networks of its kind in North America. CRC operates the test network to study the performance and capabilities of a wide variety of emerging wireless technologies, specifically to develop network design and optimization techniques, refine wireless coverage models, and assess application performance and scalability.


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Driving Directions


3701 Carling Avenue
Nepean, Ontario  K2K 2Y7

GPS coordinates

45.345196, -75.880435

Getting to CRC from downtown Ottawa via the Queensway

Take the Queensway (417 West) and exit at Moodie Drive. Turn right on Moodie and follow it to Carling Avenue. Turn left on Carling and proceed to the second set of traffic lights, just before the railway overpass. At these lights, turn right onto the access road leading to CRC .

Getting to CRC from the airport via West Hunt Club Road

Take West Hunt Club Road and follow it to Moodie Drive. Turn right on Moodie and follow it to Carling Avenue. Turn left on Carling and proceed to the second set of traffic lights, just before the railway overpass. At these lights, turn right onto the access road leading to CRC .

A word about security

The CRC is a secure site that requires visitors to be escorted while on the premises. On arrival, you will be greeted by security staff who will issue you a visitor pass and then phone the person or party you will be visiting. A representative will then meet you, either at the guard house, or at the entrance of the appropriate building.