CEO Rob Barlow Shares Direction for 2018 with Jaymie Scotto Cutaia

At PTC’18, one of the most important telecommunications events for the Pacific Rim, our CEO, Rob Barlow, met up with JSA TV’s Jaymie Scotto Cutaia to discuss the company’s latest developments and where it is headed for the rest of 2018.

Overall, throughout 2017, WireIE experienced continuous growth providing leading-class high-speed network solutions in underserved markets in Canada and around the world. We bolstered our reputation as an expert in underserved connectivity by consistently exceeding our network performance and reliability objectives throughout the year.

For 2018, we are maintaining our focus on making it possible for individuals and enterprises in underserved areas to take full advantage of the digital economy. By using both fiber and microwave technologies in the delivery of high-availability networks, we are a partner of choice for industry and governments in need of reliable, secure connectivity for their mission-critical applications. WireIE prides itself on its ability to extend carrier networks to remote and hard to reach locations, bringing the metropolitan broadband experience to the underserved and promoting regional economic development.

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Technologies empower businesses operating in underserved regions to perform at optimal standards with increased effectiveness remaining operationally lean, flexible and responsive. As a result, innovative new technologies such as unified communications, cloud and big data, reduce overall costs for organizations and create a lasting impact. However, in order for technologies to drive these results it is necessary they operate on a secure and reliable network.

As many clients rely heavily on their bandwidth connectivity, even slight downtime could have the potential to cost the enterprise money, time and cause frustration. This makes strong and secure networks a critical ingredient for successful business operations.

Considering the undeniable importance of bandwidth for organizational prosperity, some still view money spent on it as a sunk cost. In the oil and gas industry, companies are experiencing new and increased pressures to improve productivity and decrease spending. With the low price of oil the industry may not want to invest in updating critical networks.

However the opposite has proven to be true; reliable connectivity will in fact reduce the overall costs of business operations. To face upcoming industry challenges, the adoption of technology is a critical strategy for businesses to remain fiscally strong and globally competitive. Companies in oil and gas are choosing scalable bandwidth to meet their increasing needs and avoid the risky cost of downtime. Using reliable networks to run these mission critical technologies should not be undervalued. Total cost of ownership (TCO) should be the key decision point in calculating overall value.

According to a 2013 study from the Ponemon Institute, the cost per minute of unplanned downtime is $7,900—a staggering amount for sixty seconds, and a dramatic 41% increase from the previous 2010 study. It is reported that 76% of all enterprises experience an outage per year. It is imperative that networks are assessed for TCO support and help solve mission critical problems.

WireIE is a MEF CE 2.0 certified network operator that focuses on unleashing the potential by brining metro networking to underserved markets. Today, current Enterprise CTOs and technical decision makers are requesting and proving out the high availability certified networks built by WireIE, and are reducing their TCO.

The Canadian winter of 2013-14 made for some harsh conditions throughout the country. Between the never-ending snowfalls and the ice storm in Ontario, we knew we were in for a challenge. Not only did WireIE survive this winter, we thrived. To the harsh conditions we say: bring it on.

WireIE prides itself on being an “anywhere, anytime” kind of company, providing Ethernet to underserved areas of Canada. Our engineering, operational best practices and state-of-the-art equipment helped us flourish through this difficult winter and deliver quality CE standard services.

WireIE’s three-pronged approach to success: best-in-class Ethernet technology and equipment engineered for the environment; intelligent monitoring and early intervention practices; and an emergency response network to quickly resolve issues. The Ethernet equipment we use is designed to withstand the tough Canadian environment. When deployed, the equipment is housed in temperature-regulated structures which strategically creates a barrier between it and the weather.

WireIE extends existing networks to places where terrain does not allow for fiber deployment, or where trenching fiber is impractical. The WireIE team can deploy digital radio technology, faster and more efficiently than building networks with fiber. Where possible, we leverage existing structures to gain vertical height enabling strong signal transmission in all weather; this can reduce construction cost and assembly time. We find intelligent routes to connect underserved locations, while still fulfilling our high standards for quality of service and technical excellence.
Our best in class Network Operations practice gives us the ability to effectively monitor and manage network performance. We provide early intervention services, where our technical experts are able to preemptively solve problems before they occur. Finally, our strategically deployed emergency response team works day and night to ensure on-site troubleshooting if needed. We take a proactive approach to sparing and resource management which allows us to respond to and resolve issues quickly.

WireIE’s experiencing tremendous growth with the number of circuits provisioned and managed in 2013 alone. Our ability to sustain quality of service with consistently high performance and availability is a testament to the effectiveness of our change management practice. We are experts in preventing complex changes from having an adverse effect on the stability and performance of our services.

WireIE didn’t just survive this winter, we thrived. Even through the harshest conditions, WireIE remains a reliable, consistent and high-quality partner that delivers results with exceptional client experience.

To visualize the magnitude of the ice storm in Ontario, WireIE is giving away complimentary copies of the Toronto Star’s Ice Storm Ontario; a stunning photography depiction of the storm. If you’re interested in receiving your free copy, please email us at

About WireIE: We deliver carrier-grade Transparent Ethernet Solutions backed by SLAs. With a custom blend of fiber and digital to suit your circumstances, we transform, extend and support your communications networks in rural and remote areas. +1.905.882.4660 | |

In 1965 an observation was made by David House that over the history of computing hardware, the processing power of a minimal cost computer chip would double approximately every two years – Moore’s Law. While the impact of that forecast has been widely accepted and credited with significant advances in technology and associated economic benefits, there is an important forecast that applies to the power and value of networks, known as Metcalfe’s Law. The simplest way to apply this law is to look at the value of one fax machine which is useless on its own and as soon as you start to increase the number of fax machines, you increase the number of people who can send and receive faxes. While there is no specific timeline attached to Metcalfe’s law, advances in network size and capacity along with the mobile computing and communications revolution, have made the impact of Metcalfe’s law perhaps even more significant that its processing power counterpart.

We definitely “get more” out of the devices and networks that we use by virtue of their size and reach. Metcalfe’s law was defined by device only – today it also applies to the network effect most commonly discussed in reference to social networks. For example, if Facebook were a nation it would be larger than the United States and would rank itself just behind China and India in population.

I believe the most transformative aspect of the network effect or Metcalfe’s law is in an economic context. We are witnessing firsthand how the whole paradigm of enterprise computing is shifting to a cloud based model. This is allowing for even greater levels of distribution and provisioning of services and applications across both urban, rural and remote locations.

You can draw a direct line from the now dominant importance of SLAs in our business to the network effect described in Metcalfe’s Law. When the power and capacity of the connections becomes standard, only the reliability and performance of the network can impact its value to customers. In our opinion, the impact of the network effect and Metcalfe’s Law is significantly larger in rural and remote communities because of the fact that the multiplier effect is allowing business to take a substantial leap forward from the negative effects of decades of living off restricted and narrow network capacity.

The tide is shifting on acceptance and adoption of microwave radio as a viable alternative or supplement to fibre and economics may dictate more of the same.

For many in the telecommunications industry the recognition of microwave as a viable alternative to fibre to create carrier grade bandwidth with industry leading latency is not old news.

It has been frustrating to witness that the marketplace has not recognized this fact in a substantial and meaningful way. That does appear to be changing.

Late last year, Jason Bunge of Dow Jones wrote about the pace and level of high speed microwave adoption that has taken place recently in the securities exchange markets in North America and Europe. His article highlights how the deployment of high speed broadband over microwave is about to outpace fibre network deployment this year. As Bunge notes this is an industry where milliseconds count and where the highest standards of speed and network reliability are considered essential.

What is driving the change is cost efficiency and timeliness as the exchange business needs to address declining trade volumes by increasing speed and efficiency in their markets without breaking the bank to do it.

Many consider the capital markets to be technology leaders in the Financial Services (FS) sector and highly influential concerning the use and adoption of technology and telecom innovation. If the leaders of the FS sector are ready to make the jump to microwave radio it bodes well for the broader adoption of this standard within that sector and beyond.

Consider for a moment that the economics is driving the shift away from fibre and it becomes clear that there are other sectors that could likewise realize the same benefits and make the switch. If not for primary connections to office locations, it will be used as secondary to locations that have fibre available. Industries like oil and gas extraction, mining, Manufacturing, retail and the public sector are all witness to both exponential growth in data and the opportunity to use data to quickly and effectively deliver innovative new products and services to an increasingly “high demand” business place. If it is also recognized as an alternative or supplement that is more cost effective than traditional fibre deployment, widespread adoption of microwave radio  is not far behind? It is not the innovation of technology that is the biggest driver of change but the “mother of necessity” economics that makes change all the more compelling.

– Rob Barlow, CEO

About WireIE: We deliver carrier-grade Transparent Ethernet Solutions backed by SLAs. With a custom blend of fiber and digital to suit your circumstances, we transform, extend and support your communications networks in rural and remote areas. +1.905.882.4660 | |

On June 8, 2012, the Government of Ontario took the next step in their Clean Energy Economic Development Strategy, with the release of the Clean Energy Institute (CEI). The new institute will bring together industry leaders and utility companies to build on Ontario’s strengths in smart grid technologies and other clean energy innovations.

In conjunction with the CEI, Mars hosted the Future Energy Summit focused on bringing some of the top minds in clean energy to give feedback and help design the Smart Grid we need. A smarter grid will spearhead better tools to manage electricity use, help utilities prevent, detect and restore outages and ultimately connect every home and building to a renewable energy grid, therefore, decreasing green house gas emissions.

WireIE contributes to the Smart Grid by partnering with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) to define the operational requirements of a communications network supporting Smart Grid. By modeling various rural and urban electricity distribution scenarios, communication network specifications have been developed. This collaboration continues as WireIE sponsors the study and modeling of new Smart Grid applications.

WireIE is now part of this new funding released today by the Energy Minister for a Durham region trial. This will advance our current research into a live production environment. As a Smart Grid future is enabled in Ontario WireIE will continue to lead with its partners.

For more information on Ontario’s Clean Energy Institute:

For more information on Smart Grid projects:

For more information about Microwave Technologies for Carrier Ethernet Services, download this MEF document

About WireIE: We deliver carrier-grade Transparent Ethernet Solutions backed by SLAs. With a custom blend of fiber and digital to suit your circumstances, we transform, extend and support your communications networks in rural and remote areas. +1.905.882.4660 | |

The typical forms of voice and data transport for Carrier Ethernet Services are fiber and copper. While both provide connectivity in access networks, fiber is favoured for its prolific capacity, and copper is most widely used in environments with an existing telephone network . However, there are times when physical, geographical, legal, political or financial obstacles will stand squarely in the way of digging ditches, raising poles and pulling wire.

Overcoming the Obstacles

This is where microwave steps in. Even in the most challenging of circumstances, the combination of digital radio and Carrier Ethernet services can offer excellent flexibility, reliability, bandwidth and quality of service at a realistic price:

  • Right-of-way: Because microwave uses radio spectrum, it can navigate physical barriers such as private property
  • Service-aware traffic management allows you to differentiate voice and data packets by type, to avoid bottlenecks and smooth demand.
  • Rural and third world: In these environments, often with poor legacy communications, microwave extends your connectivity reach
  • Planning issues: Digital radio leapfrogs complex planning approvals that can slow the progress of fiber or copper installations in densely populated urban areas
  • Temporary links: Digital radio is a great choice for temporary sporting or entertainment events
  • Physical hurdles: Water, roads and challenging terrain can all complicate, or defeat, terrestrial installations
  • Security concerns: The threat of human or environmental interference, especially the increasing theft of copper in some countries, makes traditional installations more risky and less advisable

Low Cost Gigabit Ethernet Services

Today’s digital radio technologies are capable of providing rapid connectivity and delivering Gigabit Ethernet services across any terrain, over significant distances. Recent technical developments also enable digital radio to function in lower frequency bands without line-of-sight. Plus, in many environments, this technology can provide the lowest cost per bit for Ethernet service transport.

Remote Site Connectivity

Here are just some of the ways you can use microwave technology to connect the remotest or most rural of locations:

  • Broadband networks to support the conversion to digital TV
  • Broadband networks to support DSL access in rural areas by overcoming the distance limitations of the DSLAM and broadband backbone
  • Fiber backup routes to provide redundancy, diversity and network protection
  • Network extensions to reach remote locations

So, whether you’re looking to extend service in areas where fiber and copper are not available, or need a high-performance back-up route to ensure failsafe communications, digital radio is a highly competitive choice with an impressive performance history.

For more information about Microwave Technologies for Carrier Ethernet Services, download this MEF document

About WireIE: We deliver carrier-grade Transparent Ethernet Solutions backed by SLAs. With a custom blend of fiber and digital to suit your circumstances, we transform, extend and support your communications networks in rural and remote areas. +1.905.882.4660 | |

If you want to cause a stir, walk into a room full of seasoned technicians and mention microwave. Citing the twin fears of limited capacity and weather-dependent performance, many will offer stories of past problems without realizing that, like many other things in life, microwave has moved on.

The Future is not the Past

The legacy-based, analog solutions of the past bear no resemblance to modern microwave. Dismiss the new developments, and you could find yourself missing out on the many business benefits that today’s digital radio technologies bring.

Increasingly, organizations are discovering the advantages of a converged network platform that combines Carrier Ethernet and point-to-point digital radio to provide a new, highly effective method of voice and data transport. With the benefit of alternative thinking, smart solutions providers are overcoming terrestrial challenges and building advanced communications networks in some surprisingly remote areas – where often dial up had been the only option.

Two Strong Technologies

In response to our appetite for higher bandwidth and budget-conscious performance, over the past decade Carrier Ethernet has moved to centre stage – and continues to evolve today. Checking all the boxes, it’s a quicker, simpler and cheaper way to connect people with information. Plus, with Ethernet, it’s easy to build extensions or make adjustments down the road. And terrestrial microwave has proven to be an excellent partner for fiber in access networks – playing an increasingly valuable role in support of rich media applications like video, VoIP and disaster recovery.

The Question of Capacity

It’s time to dispel some of the myths and reveal the facts about microwave:

  • Gigabit capacity is already a reality – and it’s enough for most Carrier Ethernet applications.
  • Service-aware traffic management allows you to differentiate voice and data packets by type, to avoid bottlenecks and smooth demand.
  • Adaptive code modulation technology increases bandwidth capacity and also means you can deploy microwave equipment in densely populated areas.
  • Nodal function optimizes radio bandwidth resources and makes it easier for you to scale.
  • Packet technology is flexible, which means you can use microwave to get an optimal increase in data rates.
  • Over-air capacity is increased with microwave by using multiple transmission channels at different carrier frequencies. Capacity has also grown through enhancements like cross polarization, interference cancellation and data compression.

The Latest Weather Report

Although weather can affect microwave, technology enhancements have made it easier to deal with bad conditions, and custom-engineered links are specifically designed to account for the elements:

  • Adaptive modulation protects your network from weather effects by varying radio throughput, making adjustments according to the performance of air interface channels.
  • Frequency diversity makes your network resilient to bad-weather fading.

A New Form of Transport

The evolution of microwave technology offers a valuable opportunity to combine Carrier Ethernet services with digital radio to provide end-to-end network transport services. Offering limitless reach, this converged platform will give you the performance and capacity to communicate faster and more flexibly at a price that suits your CFO – even when geography is not on your side.

The global digitization of over-the-air broadcast television presents an unprecedented opportunity for networks to realize capital and operational cost efficiencies at the transmitter site. In this report, just released by WireIE, we explore a DVB-T multimarket solution where STL/backhaul costs are greatly reduced in comparison to equivalent analogue systems. The report also looks at the significant cost savings that can be realized by having multiple program providers share a single DTV Transport Stream (TS).

Most would agree that the traditional centralized electrical distribution model will evolve to a distributed generation (DG) model. When this occurs, and to what degree remains to be seen. Regardless, a smart grid communications infrastructure is essential in the safe, reliable and efficient management of a DG infrastructure.

For the past couple of years, WireIE has worked in collaboration with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in developing a model for a smart grid distribution system of the future. Faculty in the university’s Electrical Engineering & Applied Science program, along with their students, have modeled a number of distributed generation scenarios from the utility’s perspective. One of the many outcomes of this exercise has been a clearer specification of communication network requirements to support these distributed generation scenarios.

Communication Network Requirements
A smart grid communications network must support a number of applications, some mission critical, while others are comparatively forgiving. As our UOIT colleagues specify, the operation of taking a distributed generation source on or off line demands execution of the transition in no more than 5 – 6 cycles, or 80 – 100 milliseconds. In contrast, other administrative functions such as a dispatch applications may be tolerant of a number of seconds delay.

With UOIT’s DG scenarios in mind, our most critical communications network specification is latency. Latency is defined as the time taken for an element of data to transcend a link, or series of links, in a data communications network. We therefore need to factor in the very stringent latency requirements of DG while also recognizing that our smart grid communications network will be handling significant volumes of less time-sensitive administrative traffic.

Communications Network Architecture
A smart grid communications network must support protection and control functions at DG interconnection points. These sites include facilities on the grid itself, along with businesses and residences where alternative energy may also to be available to the grid. With a clear delineation between mission-critical operations and those more tolerant of latency and throughput variations, a dual or potentially multi-layered, communications network is envisioned.

One can think of the bottom layer of the network being administrative and housekeeping oriented. It is designed for high reliability but it also has comparatively high forgiveness of latency, along with other network performance variations. Geographically, this layer covers a wide area – potentially all of a Local Distribution Company – and is appropriately referred to as a Wide Area Network (WAN). In contrast, the top layer is composed of several Local Area Networks (LANs). All LANs connect to the WAN so that communication can take place between the Operations Centre on the WAN and remote sites on the network.


Mouse Over the Image to Reveal the LAN Layer

The Drawing Assumes an IEC 61850 Interface as a Demarcation Between Electrical Utility and Communication Network Assets

While this basic topology is by no means revolutionary, the mission-criticality of many protection and control functions will require unprecedented robustness and redundancy – particularly on the LAN layer, and often at the network edge. As is the trend with many modern networks, edge oriented data processing and storage yields significant bandwidth efficiencies, along with a commensurate improvement in network performance and service reliability.

The LAN’s primary purpose is to execute time-sensitive, mission-critical protection and control operations such as a DG source switch-over. It should be noted that DG operational decision making is not the same thing as the actual execution of the operational decision. This distinction is important in that business and operational policies and decision-making do not occur on the LAN. Instead, a centralized operations facility, or perhaps a collection of regional operations centres, are located on the WAN. Among other things, these centres are where operational decisions are made and subsequently delivered to the appropriate LAN. Once an instruction is delivered to the appropriate LAN, local sensing and measuring equipment determine whether conditions are conducive to actual execution on the instruction. The outcome of the instruction (executed successfully, failed) is then delivered from the LAN to the operations centre via the WAN.

Why not consolidate the WAN and LAN layers? The main reason relates to the wide range of expectations placed on the smart grid communication network as a whole. As previously mentioned, protection and control functions are comparatively demanding of the network in terms of reliability and low latency, whereas administrative functions are quite forgiving.

As a self-contained network within a larger ‘network of networks’, the local aspect of a LAN has some very important attributes in supporting protection and control. As a topologically simple, self-contained local network, a LAN is very fast – an essential characteristic in executing protection and control operations. Not only are communication link distances short in a LAN, there are fewer hops (a linear collection of communication links) per communication channel. Multiple hops introduce aggregate latency. An additional inherent benefit of the LAN’s simplicity is reduced points of failure within the LAN itself. In fact in most situations, the LAN can operate autonomously should there be either a planned or unforeseen disconnection from the WAN. Predefined operational policies would stipulate the degree to which the LAN can operate autonomously in the event of a disconnection from the WAN.

Communications Network Technology Considerations
Many DG sources are in locations where limited or no communications infrastructure exists. In these cases deployment of digital radio, or a digital radio/fiber optic hybrid is both attractive and pragmatic.

WireIE’s Transparent Ethernet Solutions™ (TES) are built with exceptionally low latency characteristics – all backed up by a Service Level Agreement (SLA). WireIE TES can be deployed in a point-to-point, or point-to-multipoint topology. For access, Long Term Evolution(LTE) promises very attractive latency characteristics, well within the requirements set out by our friends at UOIT. WiMAX(Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) also shows potential as a Smart Grid access technology — particularly WiMAX 802.16m, recently approved by the ITU.

Single hop latency in a WiMAX or LTE link measured from base station to CPE (customer premises equipment), is typically equal to or less than 10 milliseconds. Aggregate latency must therefore be kept safely below 50 milliseconds on all protection and control paths. Again, containing execution of distributed generation activities to a LAN ensures latency thresholds are not exceeded.

WireIE TES, LTE and WiMAX offer a number of sophisticated capabilities over and above impressive latency characteristics. All employ dynamic radio link quality management capabilities. Throughput is traded off for link robustness in the event the quality of a radio path should deteriorate. The reverse is also true as radio path quality improves. The mechanism facilitating throughput verses robustness is known as adaptive modulation.

It is essential that each digital radio link be engineered to exceptionally strict path propagation specifications because of the mission critical nature of smart grid protection and control applications. This entails exhaustive path analysis and a subsequent network design to ensure that every radio path is never at risk of engaging a modulation scheme below a carefully calculated threshold. As a fixed network, radio link reliability can be achieved with a high degree of predictability. That said, best-of-breed engineering is an essential ingredient from a reliability and performance perspective. In addition, network redundancy and/or diversity must be incorporated into the design, thus enhancing overall reliability and equally important, allowing for any and all network failure scenarios. Further protection against communication network failures must also be addressed as the application layer.

A properly engineered LAN using digital radio technologies such as WireIE’s TES, LTE and WiMAX will provide a safe and reliable platform by which to execute critical protection and control operations such as a DG switch-over. The underlying WAN provides the necessary communications foundation to administer such activities. The WAN also supports the broader administrative, ‘house keeping’ activities envisioned for smart grid.