SuperNet provider offloads network division

Axia NetMedia Corp., one of the providers behind Alberta’s SuperNet project, Thursday sold a division it no longer considers strategically important.

Axia division Netricom

“”is in the procure, engineer and install telecom support business . . . (With) Axia, our work has gravitated toward the high-level design and outsource operation of high-speed broadband networks,”” said Axia president Murray Walker.

Netricom was more important to the company when it was first bidding on the SuperNet contract in order to demonstrate it could offer a broad spectrum of services. “”Now we have SuperNet . . . when we do future exploration of that kind of opportunity . . . we’re able to point to a real live example.””

Axia recently reached a resolution over its commercial dispute with Bell West over SuperNet contractual responsibilities. The fibre optic network, designed to reach 422 Alberta communities, is scheduled for completion next year.

Netricom’s COO Jim Commerford added that it has been moving out of the commodity market and into services, increasing its distance from the parent company. “” The ownership stage with Symtech, is a very strategic move on our part because we’ve been going through a bit of a business transformation over the last six months,”” he said. “”We’re moving to a model which includes more professional services to go along with our basic network infrastructure.””

Netricom has been bought by another company in the telecom and infrastructure services space Symtech, for an undisclosed sum. According to Denny Jackson, president and owner, it will provide the Toronto-based company some critical mass in Western Canada and an opportunity to explore the small and medium-size enterprise (SME) market.

There is very little overlap between the two companies’ customer bases, according Commerford, which should provide opportunities for mutual growth. “”We think we can take our model and take their model — they’re dominant in the Fortune 100 and 200 customers — and become an even bigger player than we already are in the SME market,”” he said. He added that the two names, Netrcom and Symtech, will be maintained.

“”With the merge, we’re going to be somewhere in the range of $55 million to $60 million in revenue,”” said Jackson. “”The plan is to grow it to well over $100 million. We can add our integration services into their customer base that they typically only do infrastructure for today, i.e. cabling and what have you.””

Netricom employs 300 people, most of which will become part of Symtech, he added. The first step of the merger will be to centralize all operations in Toronto. Symtech is in the process of standardizing its own infrastructure on Avataro BOS and will similarly move Netricom onto the platform.

Jackson said part of the purchase arrangement with Axia will include a service agreement to install edge devices on the SuperNet fibre optic network. Customers in the future could include some key contracts in B.C.

Netricom “”gives us a larger presence in Vancouver as well, to give us the ability to go after what we can of the Olympic build-up,”” said Jackson. “”We’re looking at it from an infrastructure standpoint. There’s new connections being put into Whistler itself, and then there’s the facilities.””


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