Committed to providing best in class business network solutions in underserved regions from Port Hardy, British Columbia to Gander, Newfoundland WireIE Holdings International Inc. is working around the clock. In a brief interview with Insights Success, Rob Barlow, the President & CEO of WireIE speaks to a few of the challenges the organization has faced, and strategies it’s incorporated to ensure WireIE’s standing in the industry. Let’s have a look at what the leader has to say about his organization.
Give a brief overview of WireIE, its solutions and services?
Rob: WireIE Holdings International Inc. builds, deploys, and operates Broadband network solutions in underserved regions across Canada and the Americas. Our specialty is owning and operating carrier grade Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) certified networks for oil and gas, mining, utilities, healthcare, financial services, retail and government industries.
How do you diversify your Telecom Solutions so that they will benefit all of your customers?
Rob: Agility is key. WireIE is operating in communities that have been leaning on unreliable connectivity – if they even have access at all. We can’t always turn to the sort of solutions most people take for granted in bigger cities. We’ve diversified our offerings to reflect that. We sell wholesale access to Tier 1 and Tier 2 network operators throughout Canada, and the US. We’ve also helped create small Internet service providers like FirstTEL, an Indigineous business, where we were able to offer a triple play Internet, VoIP and 290 Channels of IP TV. This offering is typically one-tenth the cost of traditional network deployments.
Please describe the experiences, achievements or lessons learnt that have shaped the journey of WireIE?
Rob: I started as a lineman with Hydro One 25 years ago. We were using two-way radios and doing everything on paper. I always knew there had to be a better way. After a decade of doing that I left to work for Clearnet, and later Telus when it acquired Clearnet. It was revolutionary what Clearnet was doing with the Motorola iDEN network at the time. It had always been in the back of my mind during my lineman days, but that got me thinking about how we should be putting more effort into connecting these communities. Even now, all these years later it’s absolutely baffling how many of communities don’t even have adequate broadband infrastructure.
What role do WireIE’s innovations play in transforming the industry?
Rob: I think, above all, we want to have a social impact. We’re creating channels for voices where there’s a precedence of exclusion and isolation from the digital economy. It’s a digital divide perpetuated by inadequate assessment of needs. The onus is being put on these communities to prove the needed funding incentives for broadband infrastructure, but most of these communities lack the technical talent or resources to assess their highspeed infrastructure, as well as the commercial knowledge and buying power. When they do build infrastructure, they’re often requesting fibre-optics as a fix-all. It’s a business case that is dependant on subsidies for initial infrastructure with no funding for the operational costs that continue to be an ongoing escalating barrier. We’re trying to demonstrate that the typical incentive model isn’t the best solution. There are fourth generation technologies and commercial models capable of delivering reliable broadband connectivity to underserved markets.
Please give us a brief explanation regarding your influence towards the industry and the company?
Rob: I’m trying to drive this conversation surrounding the digital divide both through WireIE’s mandate and as a public individual. With WireIE, I’ve spent over a decade laying the groundwork, bringing these underserved communities access to the digital economy and the highspeed broadband infrastructure needed to compete in the 21st century. It’s about inclusion, and that drives most of what we do.
What are WireIE’s future goals?
Rob: Bringing all underserved markets the same service you would get in metropolitan areas is an ongoing longterm strategy. We definitely still have a lot of ground to cover. There’s no reason why more people can’t be empowered with connection. We’d love to see governments at all levels change the conversation and tone of the discussion, recognizing that broadband in relation to underserved markets requires a different approach before incentive programs for capital are utilized. Beyond that, our goal is delivering Industrial Internet of Things networks to remote, heavy industry like liquid natural gas exploration and production facilities.
Considering the rising number of Telecom solution providers, how does WireIE stand out from its competitors?
Rob: Partnering is in our DNA and we utilize these partnerships to get underserved markets connected and give them a voice. There’s strength in what we’ve formed and it’s still in the works. The partnership with Frontline 360 Inc. is a prime example. We’re an exclusive distributor of the Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) VoIP and Internet for Indigenous communities in Canada. This is the sort of technology that is going to give these communities access to the digital economy and close the divide.
About the Leader
Rob Barlow is the President and CEO of WireIE. An entrepreneurial leader by nature, Rob Barlow has been a key force in the introduction of several high profile technologies into the Canadian Telecommunications sector. Rob brings progressive senior experience in the IT, Wireless Internet, Energy and Telecommunications sectors. He’s held various strategic positions at TELUS and Hydro One.
About the Company
WireIE is an industry leader that delivers purpose built business networks, bridging the digital divide across Canada and the Americas. WireIE sells wholesale access to Tier 1 and Tier 2 networks operators, and direct to large oil and gas developers. The company specializes in owning and operating carrier grade Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) certified networks to connect the underserved in oil and gas, mining, utilities, healthcare, financial services, retail and government industries. WireIE has become the first carrier worldwide with a focus on underserved region networks to receive the Metro Ethernet Forum Carrier Ethernet 2.0 certification for service operators.