The 5G future of mobile will make its first Ontario appearance in Waterloo, where Rogers Communications and the University of Waterloo will soon build a test network, Rogers announced Friday.

The three-year “smart campus” project is part of Rogers’ broader $20-million investment in research and development of 5G technology, which promises to supercharge mobile data transfer speeds. That investment includes the company’s partnership with Communitech, announced earlier this year, in which Rogers opened a 5G innovation lab at the Communitech Hub.

“We are incredibly proud to partner with the University of Waterloo to bring the very best in 5G research and innovation to Canada and Canadians,” Joe Natale, Rogers Communications President and CEO, said in a statement today. “5G is at our doorstep and these investments are critical to developing the ideas and solutions that will fuel industries and drive Canada’s digital economy for decades to come,” added Natale, a UW electrical engineering graduate.

With construction beginning early in the new year, the partnership will focus on 5G research in engineering, network design, applied mathematics and artificial intelligence, Rogers said. The company and UW will also build a 5G network on campus to test network infrastructure, frequencies and applications in a real-world Canadian environment.

As part of the partnership, Rogers is a founding partner of the Gateway for Enterprises to Discover Innovation at the University of Waterloo (GEDI), a central place for companies to access Waterloo’s research, talent and entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

“We are pleased to partner with Rogers and to further explore this transformative technology,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, UW’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “Combining the experience of Rogers with the research and entrepreneurial talent at the University of Waterloo will empower faculty and students to make discoveries and build new companies that will help us further contribute to the economies of our region and the country as a whole.”

Rogers also announced it is the first wireless provider to work with ENCQOR 5G, a $400-million partnership led by the governments of Canada, Ontario and Quebec. ENCQOR has established the first pre-commercial 5G telecommunications corridor in Canada and brings together a vast network of companies, organizations and researchers who want to innovate by using the full potential of 5G. Through ENCQOR, Rogers will support small- and medium-sized enterprises as they tap into the potential of 5G. 

Friday’s announcements follow Rogers’ recent activation of North America’s first 5G powered campus at the University of British Columbia to facilitate academic research and testing. To foster commercial 5G development in the Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor, the company opened Rogers Create: a 5G Lab at Communitech, focused on accelerating and launching 5G applications, earlier this year.

Rogers has also partnered with Ericsson, the North American 5G partner of choice, to boost and densify its fibre-powered network with 5G-ready technology. As it prepares for commercial deployment of 5G in 2020, Rogers continues to test 5G in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, and upgrade its national 4.5G network with the latest 5G-ready technology.