Press Releases

ORION Hosts Fastest Optical Data Rate on Live Research Network in North America

ORION joins forces with Alcatel-Lucent to trial 400G optical network.

(Toronto) – The Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION) has successfully completed the first North American field test of a high–capacity 400G live research, education and innovation (RE&I) network.

Last week’s test in Ontario marks the first time a dedicated RE&I network in North America has completed a 400G trial.

The test on the ORION network was conducted with Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) between ORION’s Point of Presence (PoP) on Front Street in downtown Toronto and another PoP located inside York University’s campus in North York.

The results of the test demonstrate the ORION network is 400G capable, which could open up new opportunities for Ontario researchers, educators and innovators as they collaborate on local, national and international projects.

Doug Paterson, Dr. Darin Graham, Robert Haché, Bob Gagne.

In the foreground, Doug Paterson, Technical Project leader with the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION), handles equipment used in the 400G field test of the ORION network. In the background watching, from left to right, are Dr. Darin Graham, CEO and President of ORION, Robert Haché, Vice President of Research and Innovation at York University, and Bob Gagne, Chief Information Officer at York University.

Quick Facts:

  • A single 400G signal could support 6.25 million voice calls or 20,000 CDs.
  • Ontario researchers and neuroscientists use big data in the Ontario Brain Institute’s Brain-CODE project, which involves transferring terabytes of genetic imaging and clinical data over the ORION network as they collaborate with one another.
  • ORION currently supports nearly 2 million users in colleges, universities, school boards, hospitals and other centres of innovation and learning.
  • ORION was the first in Canada to deploy a 100G network and remains one of the largest and fastest networks in the world.
  • ORION’s fibre-optic network has 27 points of presence across Ontario with connections to other RE&I and carrier networks.
  • Alcatel-Lucent’s 1830 Photonic Service Switch PSS powered by the 400G Photonic Service Engine (PSE) was used in the ORION field test.
  • The technology used in the 400G PSE was developed by Bell Labs, the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent.
  • Similar field tests of this size of extreme data have been conducted elsewhere, but this represents the first field test conducted on a dedicated research and education network in North America.


Dr. Darin Graham, CEO and President, ORION: “Ontario’s research, education and innovation communities depend on ORION’s digital infrastructure to develop solutions for the world’s toughest problems. Our user’s needs continue to expand exponentially, making this field test critical in preparing for future demand. ORION and Ontario will be ready.”

Marc-Anthony Bellini, Chief Technology Officer, Alcatel-Lucent Canada: “Alcatel-Lucent is pleased to be working with ORION; taking their already advanced network to the next level. Along with the 400G capability comes more dynamic and efficient control of the network so it will evolve ahead of user demands and new network cloud architectures. It is rewarding to see how our product innovations and ORION’S network form the platform for others to innovate on a multiplied scale.”

Marc-Anthony Bellini and Dr. Darin Graham.

Marc-Anthony Bellini, Chief Technology Officer of Alcatel-Lucent Canada, and Dr. Darin Graham, CEO and President of the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION), hold equipment used in the 400G field test of the ORION network.

About ORION:

As Ontario’s backbone of innovation, the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION) is one of the largest Research, Education and Innovation (RE&I) networks in the world. We connect all of Ontario’s universities, most colleges, several teaching hospitals, public research facilities, and a growing number of Ontario’s school boards to one another and to a global network of RE&I connections. In addition to providing one of the world’s fastest broadband connections, we are a research and innovation partner for our members. Through our technology and support, ORION constantly strives to keep Ontario on the leading edge of innovation.

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For further information:

Cathy Bogaart
Director, Marketing and Communications
Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION)
Office: 416.507.9860 ext. 250
Mobile: 416.558.9546