EXFO plans 5G Center of Excellence in Montreal

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AI, ML and cloud computing will be the focus of the new facility, which the federal government is helping to fund

Test and monitoring solutions maker EXFO announced Monday that it has received CAD$15.9 million from the federal government of Canada to advanced 5G telecommunications in the country. EXFO said it’s using the money to open a 5G Center of Excellence in Montreal, Quebec, where it expects to employ 50 people.

Philippe Morin, EXFO CEO, said in a statement that the company will use the federal money to develop advanced cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) technologies used to automatically predict and detect 5G issues and outages. 

“Ultimately, our innovations will help service providers in Canada and beyond deploy 5G networks faster and more efficiently than ever before,” said Morin.

The money came from the Government of Canada’s Strategic Information Fund (SIF). The fund exists to provide support for projects that help to keep Canadian businesses competitive and prosperous in the “global knowledge-based economy.” The goal of the program is to encourage high-tech R&D and product commercialization in Canada.

EXFO announced service assurance for 5G earlier this year. EXFO claimed the new solution will “close the visibility gap among cloud-native infrastructure and the network and service layers.” It combines EXFO’s existing adaptive service assurance (ASA) platform with Intel platform telemetry, the company said.

EXFO has also worked with Red Hat to enable adaptive service assurance for 5G networks using Red Hat’s OpenShift platform in hybrid cloud environments. Specifically, EXFO’s Nova Active μ-Verifier service assurance solution is now available as a Red Hat-certified container. The Nova Active μ-Verifier solution, as EXFO describes it, helps “close the visibility gap between service and network layers in hybrid 5G networks and cloud infrastructure,” providing container-based testing that enables mobile network operators to detect and troubleshoot issues.

EXFO is also offering telco cloud service assurance and analytics through Amazon Web Services (AWS). EXFO’s ASA solution generates real-time performance data that correlates Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS) key performance indicators (KPIs) with telemetry data produced by Amazon CloudWatch, the monitoring and management service provided by AWS. CloudWatch collects monitoring and operational data as logs, metrics, and events, then visualizes that data using automated dashboards to give operators a unified view of the AWS resources, applications and services they are running. Those AWS environments can include Kubernetes-based deployments through Amazon EKS Anywhere, using various AWS service options including AWS Regions, AWS Local Zones, AWS Wavelength for MEC, AWS Outposts and AWS Snowball for 5G private network environments. 

EXFO isn’t the only telecom beneficiary of SIF funding. Earlier this month, Nokia announced plans to invest $248 million to expand its headquarters in Ottawa as part of an effort to bring more than 300 high-value jobs to the area. The SIF is contributing tens of millions of additional federal money to assist the tech center’s buildout. 

Nokia said that the new tech center will expand Nokia Canada’s capacity in next-generation information and communications technology (ICT) and cybersecurity innovation. Nokia Canada plans to begin site construction in 2023 and expects to open the new facility in 2026. This project will transform Nokia Canada’s 26-acre campus at the Kanata North Business Park into a mixed-use corporate, residential and commercial hub.

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