Stream Intelligent Networks Corp. may have been forced into receivership, but its fibre is not dark yet.

“”Currently the network is being operated by some of the employees that have stuck around to assist us,”” says Andrew Wilczynski,

senior vice-president of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, who is acting as interim receiver. “”Customers are obviously apprehensive of how long that situation will last. We made some interim accommodations with key service providers.””

Stream connects buildings with fibre optic cable and provides wholesale data services to telephone and Internet companies and others.

Wilczynski says it is looking for a buyer and a number of companies have inquired or have been approached. Interest, he says, has come from both sides of the border and a number of parties are doing due diligence.

The Feb. 25 announcement comes as little surprise to Gartner Group analyst Elroy Jopling. Nor is he surprised a number of companies are interested in acquiring Stream — not that it’s risk free.

“”You would think there would be interest just because of the amount of interest today in metro networks. If you list four or five hot items in the telecom sphere metro is one of them, and so it would be surprising if someone doesn’t pick it up,”” Jopling says. “”At the same time that’s one technology to provide it, but there maybe other spaces out there or other fibre out there that’s already laid.””

Ian Angus, principal of Ajax, Ont.-based Angus Telemanagement Group, says Stream was a victim of time and perception.

“”I think there was room for Stream. I think the problem is any such company is going to need enough cash to go, I would guess, anywhere four to seven years without any profits. The fact is you have to invest extremely heavily in putting fibre into the ground,”” Angus says.

“”In a very real sense Stream was killed by Global Crossing and 360 Networks. Purely and simply, any investors looking at the business right now says, ‘Look, nobody is making any money, why would we put money in?'””

Stream had signed a number of deals to lay fibre optic cable in cities across Ontario including Ottawa, Toronto, Mississauga and Richmond Hill. Stream used a robot to install fibre in sewers, an attractive option to municipalities not keen an digging up city streets.

Bruce Macgregor, commissioner of engineering and public works, Richmond Hill, says Stream’s troubles doesn’t leave it behind the eight ball.

“”They haven’t done any work in Richmond Hill yet. We had simply completed a municipal access agreement with them, the sort of which we have in place with a number of other telecoms,”” Macgregor says.

“”They came at a bad time for the perspective of growth. One of larger business parks had been serviced pretty well exclusively by Bell up until last year.””


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