Print this page 

Special Recognition Award 2007

Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC)

Located in the high-tech hotbed of Ottawa 's west end, the Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC), an agency of Industry Canada , is the federal government's primary laboratory for research and development (R&D) in advanced telecommunications. With a staff of more than 230 research engineers and scientists, CRC has been instrumental in closing innovation gaps in the telecommunications sector, building technical intelligence, envisioning major telecommunications trends and supporting Canadian telecommunications firms in their efforts to remain globally competitive.

Officially established in 1969, the roots of the CRC can be traced back to the late 1940s with what was then the beginning of the Canadian Defence Research Board (DRB). Within the DRB was the Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment (DRTE), which existed from 1951- 1969. In 1969, the federal government established a Department of Communications. The DRTE in its entirety was transferred to the new department's research branch, and renamed the Communications Research Centre. The CRC came under Industry Canada 's wing in 1994.

The CRC houses four research branches (Terrestrial Wireless, Satellite Communications and Radio Propagation, Broadband Network Technologies and Broadcast Technology), each contributing to the development Canada's telecommunications industry. One of the CRC's many strengths is its interdisciplinary approach to long-term R&D.

The CRC has contributed to many "firsts" in Canadian communications, many of which fall under the umbrella of satellite communications. In 1962, for example, the then-DRTE led the launch of Alouette 1, Canada 's first satellite. This soon led to the development of Canada 's own communications satellite program. The 1976 launch of the Hermes satellite, which was built at Shirleys Bay , marked the first high-power satellite and the first to operate at the higher frequency Ku-band. Two years later, CRC showed its true Canadian colors by offering the world's first direct-to-home satellite television broadcast via Hermes - a Stanley Cup hockey game. Designed to last for just two years, Hermes remained operational for almost four - and was used extensively for broadcasting, tele-education, tele-health and community communications.

Among many other important discoveries, the CRC also made significant "first" contributions to the Internet and its applications. In 1978, the CRC gave its first public demonstration of Telidon, the Canadian videotex/teletext system that contributed to the development of international standards for the Web. In 1983, the CRC set up the first permanent international connection to the Internet, known as ARPANet, to support the new computer network research program. In 1992, the CRC was helped create a repository of official government documents (including the Charlottetown Accord) on the Internet - marking the first time a collection of official Canadian government documents was made available to the public via the Internet. The following year, the CRC created a Web site for CBC Radio to distribute their audio programs directly to the public on demand. This was the first time that a commercial radio broadcaster had used the Web for international audio broadcasting.

Many of CRC's discoveries and research have resulted in patents and licenses that are the focal point of commercial successes in Canada and abroad. In 2002, CRC and the United Technologies Corporation (UTC) claimed victory when the U.S. Patent Office Tribunal ruled that CRC was the first to invent the phase mask used to fabricate fibre Bragg gratings. It was also the first time that the Canadian Government had fought against two major multinational companies to protect a patent. The mask is considered one of the four major discoveries in optical communications in the world, along with the invention of optical fibres, lasers and optical amplifiers.

The CRC is responsible for many other firsts in wireless systems, radio fundamentals, i.e., Software Defined Radio, communication networks, photonics and interactive multimedia that have shaped Canadian telecommunications. It is truly a world-class R&D facility, heralded not only by Canada 's Telecommunications Hall of Fame but also by engineers, scientists, researchers and industry the world over.

For a historical overview of research developments, please visit CRC's Web site at: