Merriam-Webster defines the digital divide as “the economic, educational and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not.”
This digital divide is something that companies like WaveDirect Telecommunications has been working to bridge for years.
WaveDirect Telecommunications is an innovative company driven by the desire to provide the most advanced and cost effective telecommunications solution to business and residential customers.
“WaveDirect was formed in 2004 as a family- run business with a handful of customers and a cell phone, CEO Ryan Davidson explains. “We’ve been a wireless company for a long time providing high-speed internet to rural homes that are not along the traditional fiber path. We’ve honed our skills and have grown our staff significantly to include strong, confident connectivity specialists and infrastructure designers who are equally driven by the shared company mindset to bring connectivity to everybody.”
Currently, WaveDirect has been working with Rob Petruk and his team at Gosfield North, out of Cottam, Ontario, to try to close the digital divide between residents in the city and those in the county, through joint ventures.
“One of the greatest divides right now is the ability to get high-speed internet to every home in the county,” Ryan states. “And quite frankly, it’s not the easiest thing to do. In the city, they have the ability to create tighter networks because people are so bound together. You can run a fiber down one street and pick up a thousand homes. But when you get into the rural communities, you have to get a little more creative. You can have the same distance but only pick up five houses.”
To better meet the needs of their clients, WaveDirect has adopted a unique approach.
“We’ve adopted kind of a Robin Hood mentality,” Ryan laughs. “We’re leveraging from the urban connected areas and giving to the rural less connected areas, so to speak. We’re working on building our customer base in urban areas, which can give us the revenue to put up more towers and install more fiber in rural areas. We’re trying to hit that 50/10 mark everyone keeps dreaming about.”
Ryan points out that the COVID-19 pandemic has made closing the digital divide more crucial than ever before.
“It’s all fine and dandy to have everyone working from home if they live in the city,” Ryan states. “But it makes it very difficult for those living out in the county without proper internet. And the bandwidth needs of the people grow yearly. We have to completely overhaul our network every three years. We’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars replacing access points and equipment. It’s a lot of work. A lot of infrastructure.”
However, it all comes down to making Windsor and Essex County a more unified—more connected— community.
“The key for any municipality to get ahead and do this productively is to get rid of the idea of competition,” Ryan maintains. “By partnering with Gosfield North, we can accomplish our goals more efficiently. We all need that mindset—the mindset of partnership. We need to work together to solve a larger goal, instead of trying to solve the bottom line goal.”
And part of this greater connection, Ryan explains, is nourishing our county’s homegrown talent.
“Utilizing the talent that we have is so important,” Ryan states. “We need to focus more on understanding who we have in our area, and what we can do to help. We can help ourselves by building up the younger generation. WaveDirect is always pushing to keep the talent in our area.”
Joanne Soave, Director of Business Advancement notes that “part of WaveDirect’s mandate to foster young talent is to offer student loan repayment assistance to new hires who are brought on board with the tech skill sets we are looking for that meet our current growth demands. In addition to offering mentoring opportunities to students, through various means, who are pursuing education and careers in the area of STEM, marketing and business via the University and College.”
“If we can get young people excited about the tech industry and the community, they’ll come up with the innovation,” Ryan states. “They’ll teach us things we didn’t know.”
In addition, in order to help bridge the gap, WaveDirect made a substantial donation of laptops to Big Brothers, Big Sisters Windsor-Essex.
“The laptops allow the case workers and the kids better access to one another during times like these, when it matters the most,” Joanne explains. “Everyone involved within the organization should have the tech tools they need to connect with those who need their service and support the most.”
Michael Seguin was born with a pen in his hands and too many words floating around his skull. Since then, he’s worked tirelessly to get them out. Unfortunately, more keep taking their place. After university, he began dabbling in marketing and journalism. At the age of 26, he became the first in-house writer at Windsor Life Magazine, an esteemed local publication. As the newest member of the WEtech Alliance team, Michael is dedicated to lending a voice to the tech sector around Windsor and Chatham-Kent