About two months ago, they secured their first $20-million contract to build high-speed connectivity in Red Deer County and the Town of Delburne, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Calgary-based fibre-optic company, Valo Networks.
Valo builds and operates rural, municipal broadband networks. By partnering with communities to build local infrastructure, they provide the opportunity for operational control of their own connections and services.
Valo possesses the potential for explosive growth by providing a more affordable option for high-speed internet access to rural communities across Western Canada.
“We’re creating a level playing field for rural communities, providing the same type of connection that big cities in Canada already enjoy,” said Mike Stelck, Chief Commercial Officer of Valo Networks, which is owned by a group of private investors.
“Valo works closely to support rural municipalities. We start by consulting with the communities on their connectivity strategy. We design, cost and build the network desired, then connect all the community citizens to that network. Finally, we provide wholesale internet services over that network to an ecosystem of internet service providers.”
Valo differs from traditional models of its kind. By partnering with municipalities directly, Valo creates the opportunity for them to own and control their network. This means municipalities set the service levels, the pricing and the quality of the service.
Valo is also “carrier neutral”, meaning that any service provider can carry their network, from a small, regional internet service provider to a large company like TELUS. Additionally, Valo is vertically integrated.
“We use our own construction process. We build at a low cost, bridge funding gaps, and we have the ability to apply capital in these projects,” said Stelck.
Valo’s market in western Canada varies from counties, to municipal districts, to regional districts, and continues to grow. Valo has provided consulting services for connectivity strategies in the Municipal District of Greenview and the Peace River Regional District. Valo is currently working with other rural municipalities to help plan network rollouts.
Red Deer County is the company’s first major infrastructure project contract since the company’s inception about 18 months ago.
“Rural municipalities across Canada are realizing that the incumbent telecom companies are not providing high-speed broadband services that are vital to their communities, especially during COVID-19,” said Stelck. “Meanwhile, larger telecommunications companies such as TELUS, Bell, Shaw, and Rogers, are concentrating on urban networks and 5G rollout.”
“Rural municipalities are looking for a new model, and due to this, Valo is gaining traction across western Canada and we have the ability to extend this momentum across all of Canada.”
Until now, fixed wireless has been the chosen technology for connectivity for rural municipalities, but it can’t keep up with demand. With the current environment of users streaming entertainment, business meetings and online learning, the communities need more bandwidth. They need improved access to the services they currently use, and an overall higher quality connection.
“Fibre supports high-quality wireless, and our Valo model pushes further out to each tower, unlocking more bandwidth and capacity.”
“Wireless connections work up to a point, and then lose effectiveness. Fibre is the technology that has unlimited potential,” explained Stelck. “It’s the future of connectivity.”