GCNet WAN Services


The Government of Canada, through the work of Shared Services Canada (SSC), is transforming its Information Technology (IT) infrastructure in order to provide modern, reliable and secure services with reduced operating costs, improved service to Canadians and increased security of information. 

A key component of this transformation agenda is to design and build an integrated telecommunications network to support government operations across Canada and internationally. The GCNet WAN Services project was established to consolidate, modernize and streamline the existing 50 wide area networks into a single network service supporting both domestic and international operations. 

A wide area network (WAN) connects computer systems over a large geographic area through the use of telecommunications technologies. SSC operates 50 separate WANs built over the years to connect SSC and its partner departments and agencies. These WANs support communications for over 377,000 users in more than 3,000 sites, nationally and internationally.

Why transforming the Government of Canada’s wide area networks is important

The diversity of the Government’s existing WANs has resulted in duplication, complexity and unnecessary costs. Consolidating and standardizing these WANs will simplify the infrastructure, result in a consistent quality of service and reduce costs. To meet the demands of new, more interactive applications (e.g. high-speed and high-quality videoconferencing and Voice over Internet Protocol telephones and desktop devices), as well as the network needs of the modern data centres that will replace older, outdated infrastructure, a more robust WAN is necessary. This project also supports Blueprint 2020, the vision for the future of the public service in Canada.

How transforming the wide area networks will improve service to Canadians

The transformed WAN will provide a more secure and reliable network service, meaning there will be fewer outages to disrupt service to Canadians. The Government will be able to respond more quickly and efficiently with the move to a common, shared network that provides increased capacity and speed. The improved security provided by the transformed WAN will also help to protect data that Canadians share with departments and agencies. 

The GCNet WAN Services Project is expected to drive significant efficiencies through the convergence, the consolidation and the standardization of WAN services for the Government. This will result in lower operating costs and an infrastructure that is easier to maintain.  

Benefits to Canada’s private information technology sector

Through engagement with industry, SSC has identified best practices for IT transformation, as well as innovative options for maximizing value for Canadians. SSC has also developed a collaborative procurement process to engage the telecommunications industry in designing and providing an improved WAN service for the Government of Canada. From the initial Industry Engagement Day in July 2013, through various stages in the procurement process, qualified companies provided feedback to support the design of the transformed service while ensuring best value to Canada. This partnership approach has allowed for planning and clarification from the beginning to support a successful implementation. 

The new WAN will be put in place between 2015 and 2020.