Kanata North’s tele­com heart still beats strong

The sec­tor that started it all is mak­ing new waves around the globe

Ottawa Business Journal - - LAUNCH PAD -

K anata North has proven it­self much more than a one-trick pony since that tele­com bub­ble of years past. It’s thriv­ing in a num­ber of other mar­kets.

But tele­com lives on, for­ever wo­ven into the com­mu­nity’s fab­ric. Just look at the num­bers.

Ninety per cent of Canada’s in­dus­trial telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions R&D still takes place in the or­bit of Kanata North. Kanata North’s col­lec­tive tele­com, wire­less and pho­ton­ics sec­tor leads the way with 8,000 work­ers and $1.8 bil­lion in an­nual rev­enues.

Kanata North is home to a rich mix of home­grown play­ers with global clout, as well as multi­na­tion­als drawn here by the depth of the in­dus­try ecosys­tem and the level of tal­ent. Names like Ciena, Cisco, Eric­s­son, Huawei and Nokia live along­side Dragonwave, Edge­wa­ter Wire­less, Mi­tel, Ko­daCloud, SSi Mi­cro and oth­ers.

Ad­ver­sity breeds in­no­va­tion

Matt Massey, VP Mar­ket­ing at Edge­wa­ter Wire­less, is well aware of the rich his­tory that un­der­pins Kanata North’s tele­com sec­tor. His grand­fa­ther worked for the com­pany that started it all – Bell Northern Re­search. He be­lieves the area’s depth of tal­ent gives it the re­silience to bounce back from any mar­ket cy­cle.

“Peo­ple stayed through the down­turn,” he said. “Bright engi­neers came up with in­no­va­tive new ideas and started new com­pa­nies. Fast for­ward to today and there are many com­pa­nies here now that have their tech de­ployed all over the world. They are dom­i­nat­ing emerg­ing mar­kets like In­dia. You just don’t know it be­cause it’s still the na­ture of this area for com­pa­nies to be quiet and hum­ble. We keep our heads down and build great tech­nol­ogy.”

Edge­wa­ter is cer­tainly one of those com­pa­nies build­ing great tech. It’s the only com­pany in the world with a Wi-Fi router that can han­dle mul­ti­ple chan­nels through a sin­gle ra­dio in or­der to over­come con­ges­tion and in­ter­fer­ence chal­lenges in heav­ily traf­ficked hotspots. And it’s re­cently had the door opened to the $500-bil­lion U.S. ca­ble in­dus­try.

Where tech­nol­ogy and pub­lic pol­icy meet

SSi Mi­cro hails from Yel­lowknife, but Kanata North is its ideal sec­ond home.

The com­pany is a premier In­ter­net ser­vice provider for Canada’s North, reach­ing the most re­mote com­mu­ni­ties. Even today, many of these com­mu­ni­ties still lack cel­lu­lar ser­vice, but SSi will soon change that with the launch of a new 4G-LTE net­work. The com­pany’s Kanata North fa­cil­ity serves as its net­work op­er­a­tions cen­tre and satel­lite back­haul tele­port, us­ing two Anik satel­lites to con­nect north­ern­ers to the world’s In­ter­net back­bone.

From Kanata North, SSi has strate­gic ac­cess to a rich pool of lo­cal tech­ni­cal tal­ent and prox­im­ity to key part­ners like Te­le­sat Canada. It’s also valu­able for the com­pany to have op­er­a­tions near Par­lia­ment Hill as it lob­bies on vi­tal telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions pol­icy is­sues.

And be­ing em­bed­ded in Kanata North’s ecosys­tem is al­ways handy when it’s time to go shop­ping.

“When we have to source cus­tomer equip­ment or net­work and test equip­ment, it’s all right here,” said John Muise, SSi Mi­cro’s head of ser­vice im­ple­men­ta­tion. “It’s so con­ve­nient to send our peo­ple to ven­dor meet­ings be­cause they can of­ten just walk over.”

On the cusp of the next big thing

Bernard Her­scovici, founder and CEO of Ko­daCloud (for­merly Art2Wave), is a se­rial en­tre­pre­neur whose ca­reer be­gan 30 years ago as an en­gi­neer at Nor­tel.

He’s seen mar­ket cy­cles come and go – the evo­lu­tion of the in­dus­try from the days when hard­ware ruled to re­cent ad­vances like soft­ware­de­fined net­work­ing. In his view, the tele­com in­dus­try is poised for its next big round of ex­pan­sion and Kanata North is well po­si­tioned to ben­e­fit.

Ko­daCloud is ready to claim its piece of this pie, with the first AI (Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence) sys­tem that can de­liver true “net­work as a ser­vice.” It’s like hav­ing an IT de­part­ment in the cloud. Be­cause if an AI can drive a car, why can’t it also drive a net­work?

“What we’re see­ing now is the early stage of the next huge wave of ex­pan­sion that will see telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions net­works driven from sys­tems in the cloud,” Her­scovici said. “Many com­pa­nies and many peo­ple here in Kanata North are skilled in the hot tech­nolo­gies of the fu­ture such as soft­ware-de­fined net­work­ing, SaaS and cloud ser­vices. We have no trou­ble find­ing the tal­ent we need right here in Kanata North.”

Learn more about Kanata North’s pedi­gree in tele­com, wire­less and pho­ton­ics at

www.se­ri­oustech­liveshere.com

PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

John Muise, head of ser­vice im­ple­men­ta­tion, SSi Mi­cro.

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