Speeding towards the 5G highway

Ciena collaborates with Mitacs to develop and retain talent

According to the US Federal Communication Commission, 5G “is a virtual cornerstone for critical 21st century opportunities related to economic growth, education, employment, transportation, and more. These new networks and technologies will enable…innovations not yet imagined.”

With the explosion in consumer and industrial demand for faster and high-capacity mobile networks, the 5G download speed of up to 100 times faster than current 4G technology will enable Canadian businesses to deliver a new generation of products and services and compete robustly in the global marketplace.


So how is Canada maneuvering the 5G onramp?

ENCQOR 5G (Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Québec and Ontario for Research and Innovation) is ramping-up technology-driven business development for the 5G highway in Canada. A public-private partnership between the Governments of Canada, Quebec and Ontario, and industry leaders, ENCQOR 5G launched in March 2018; it focuses on research and innovation to drive 5G adoption and accelerate the development of disruptive technologies.

Led by Ericsson, Ciena, Thales, IBM Canada, and CGI, ENCQOR 5G represents the key to unlocking the massive potential of smart cities, e-health, e-education, connected and autonomous vehicles, on-demand entertainment and media, and the Internet of Things.


Working together for R&D talent

ENCQOR 5G partner, Ciena — a networking systems, services and software company — collaborates with Mitacs to address its specialized talent and R&D needs. Through the Mitacs internship program, Ciena works with dozens of researchers from provinces across Canada as it continues to build complex networks and push its technology to the next level.

In order to maintain its position as a global leader in networking systems, Ciena continues to drive various research and innovation initiatives across Canada and beyond. In addition to a long and fruitful history of academic research contracts, Ciena offers valuable experiential learning opportunities for interns to develop their skills in its R&D labs in Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City.


A perfect research fit

Electrical Engineering PhD candidate Yousra Omran was considering her options upon graduation from Laval University when she discovered the Mitacs internship program that connects researchers with industry.

Originally from Tunisia, Dr. Omran responded to a call for a Mitacs Accelerate research internship with Ciena. The project focused on developing algorithms for next-generation land and submarine networks, with the goal of improving performance and creating more powerful tools to increase network capacity. A perfect fit with her PhD research on submarine networks, she was offered the Mitacs-Ciena internship.

After a brief time in her internship, Ciena realized that Yousra’s research specialty was such a perfect fit for the company’s needs, that they offered her a full-time position. She was able to pass along the original internship funding to one of her colleagues in Dr. Rusch’s laboratory at Laval.

“The Mitacs-Ciena internship helped me to have the best job on earth and be successful,” says Yousra.


SPIRIT of Ciena recognition

Since working at Ciena, Yousra has twice been nominated for the SPIRIT of Ciena Award — a recognition by peers or supervisors for being a role model.

“The internship program provided me with the opportunity to find a job that I love, travel the world and have a great personal-professional balance,” says Yousra.

She also notes that the Mitacs-Ciena partnership has provided more than a couple of her lab colleagues with remarkable work opportunities at Ciena.


Driving the 5G highway

“We value our trusted and strategic relationship with Mitacs as they understand the needs of the industry and are committed to solving business challenges with agility and flexibility,” says Benoit Pelletier, Director, Business Development and ENCQOR’s Program Lead, Ciena.

The ENCQOR 5G partnership, coupled with Ciena’s strategy to leverage Mitacs interns, provides an outstanding research crew to drive successfully forward on Canada’s 5G highway.


Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec for their support of the Accelerate research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Accelerate program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Saskatchewan, and Research Manitoba.



Mitacs empowers Canadian innovation through effective partnerships that deliver solutions to our most pressing problems. By driving economic growth and productivity, we create meaningful change to improve quality of life for all Canadians.