The University of Waterloo (UWaterloo) is leading a new $1.5 million CAD multi-partner consortium for 5G and beyond mobile network technology that includes notable players in the industry.

Led by a team of computer scientists at UWaterloo, the three-year project includes membership from academic and industry partners, including École de technologie supérieure in Montréal, University of Regina, BlackBerry, NoviFlow, and Rockport Networks, with support from Rogers Communications Canada.

“The solution we are developing will have many, long-lasting impacts on Canadian industry and defence.”
– Noura Limam, project coordinator

The funding came from Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) through its Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program. All projects funded by IDEaS must be led by a Canadian university, and must bring a self-organized multidisciplinary group of researchers to collaborate and advance research in 5G that have applications for DND. Those applications can include architectures for defence and security operations; assured performance and security; and applications and sensors.

Raouf Boutaba, the project’s principal investigator and director of Waterloo’s Cheriton School of Computer Science, said that the goal of the UWaterloo-led consortium is to deploy 5G network slices that “not only have high performance, flexibility, and reliability, but also have increased security levels.”

5G network slicing refers to a network configuration that allows multiple networks to be created on top of a common physical infrastructure. Among the technologies the consortium aims to develop, according to UWaterloo, are systems enabled by artificial intelligence to detect cyberattacks on 5G network slices as they happen, then provide an automated countermeasure to maintain the network’s security.

“The solution we are developing will have many, long-lasting impacts on Canadian industry and defence,” saidNoura Limam, a research professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science at UWaterloo and the project’s coordinator. Limam said that applications can range as widely as healthcare, public safety, and emergency response, among others.

Limam told BetaKit that UWaterloo’s research team, its collaborators from École de technologie supérieure and University of Regina, as well as industry partners from Rockport, NoviFlow, and BlackBerry have common interests and expertise in 5G, networking, and network security.

“Coming together, building on existing collaborations and experiences … and joining forces to develop secure and reliable 5G mobile networks, and advance Canada’s security and defence was an opportunity and a natural thing to do,” Limam said.

RELATED: Communitech, Rogers to launch 5G innovation lab in Kitchener-Waterloo

For example, BlackBerry aims to build new solutions for identifying and blocking the insertion of malicious software into the 5G supply chain. Rockport will provide UWaterloo researchers with high-performance local area networks to power AI workloads at the 5G edge, while NoviFlow’s contribution will be its multi-terabyte, software-defined networking solutions meant to help UWaterloo deploy a multi-access edge cloud for on-demand deployment of security functions at the network edge.

Additionally, UWaterloo said that the solutions coming out of the consortium will be integrated with its partner and collaborator technologies to create a proof-of-concept on the UWaterloo-Rogers 5G testbed.

UWaterloo entered into a multimillion dollar partnership with Rogers in 2019 to advance 5G research in the Toronto-Waterloo tech corridor. Building on that collaboration, the university was established as a ‘smart campus’ as part of Roger’s 5G network expansion to over 50 Canadian towns and cities including Waterloo and the UWaterloo campus.

Featured image courtesy University of Waterloo

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