Canada takes advantage of the ability of satellites to provide communications throughout a country that is composed of both high and low density population centers. While most of the population is located near the southern border, and this population is served well by conventional terrestrial and cellular communications techniques, the people in sparsely populated vast northern parts of the country use satellites for much of their communications. Canada was the third country in the world, after Russia and the United States, to design and build its own satellite. With the launch of Anik 1 in 1972, Canada became the first country in the world to have a commercial geostationary communications satellite network. Telesat, the national satellite communications company, was established in 1969 and provides telecommunications, TV broadcast distribution and business communications services throughout the country. Telesat continues to be on the forefront in the use of the most technologically advanced satellites, as evidenced by its March 1998 order from Hughes of a satellite with 48 Ku-band and 38 C-band transponders, having a footprint that covers both North and South America. Teleglobe Canada is Canada's overseas telecommunications carrier and is a member of INTELSAT and Inmarsat.
The panel visited three Canadian communications satellite facilities: the Communications Research Center (CRC) in Ottawa; SPAR Aerospace, located near Montreal; and COM DEV, located near Toronto. CRC is Canada's leading communications research facility. The primary focus of the satellite communications systems research program is on long-term planning. CRC has a close liaison with Canadian industry and universities. Its R&D program includes the following studies:
The WTEC study team had stimulating discussions with CRC hosts on the systems concepts for Internet services and on satellite-terrestrial interoperability issues, and visited a laboratory involved in addressing these interoperability problems. CRC has an active, impressive R&D program that emphasizes satellite system issues.
SPAR is Canada's largest private space company, and has been the integrator for numerous R&D projects including Ka- band data delivery systems, antennas, rf products and onboard processing. It is a leader in large and phased array antennas and supplies them to several large spacecraft manufacturers.
COM DEV is a rapidly growing company, with a focus on supplying parts and sub-systems to the major global manufacturers of spacecraft. Company representatives recognize that these manufacturers are increasingly purchasing these items from other companies that supply these items at low cost, high reliability and on schedule. COM DEV specializes in the sale of surface acoustic wave (SAW) based filters, processors, switches, antennas and integrated multiplexer (MUX) and demultiplexer (DEMUX) equipment. Also, they work closely with their customers to develop customer specific products, one example being the intersatellite link antennas for Iridium. Their R&D program includes work on antennas, multiplexers, SAW based processors and filters, high temperature superconductor filters and multiplexers and proprietary software for in-house computer assisted design (CAD).