Getting There Faster: the transformative power of smart technology
Q+A with Shaw Communications
We’re living in a sped-up world where access to the digital realm is more important than ever for business to succeed.
A member of SIPP since 2019, Shaw Communications is one of the companies at the forefront of gig speed internet, advocating and providing equitable digital infrastructure and access.
Dean Price, Vice President of Shaw Corporate Retail Sales and Virginie Martin, Account Executive with Shaw Business, share with us how their work helps drive economic growth in Greater Victoria.
Why did you join South Island Prosperity Partnership?
DEAN: We were drawn to join the South Island Prosperity Partnership because of the diversity of the collective’s membership. Shaw has strong roots throughout South Vancouver Island, having been a major employer and service provider in the region for decades.
VIRGINIE: SIPP’s unique membership base gives us the ability to gain access to new ideas and a variety of perspectives that can support our business interests in the area while helping collectively contribute to its economic development. For example, we were impressed how the partnership members came together with the [SIPP-led] Smart City Challenge in 2019, proposing the Smart Mobility Program. We were also thrilled to be part of Rising Economy Taskforce’s Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Committee last summer, providing ideas on how best to promote economic recovery.
I am excited to support my clients and believe the topics covered by SIPP will help me do that in a more holistic way, enabling me to loop back to my colleagues at Shaw with ideas on the evolving needs and expectations of our clients and markets.
DEAN: Our partnership with the South Island Prosperity Partnership provides a fantastic opportunity for Virginie – our local representative in the region – to continue build relationships and offering Shaw’s support to businesses, local governments and First Nations communities across South Vancouver Island.
What do you see as key to growing a resilient, robust economic future for our region?
DEAN: Connectivity, including access to high-speed internet and mobile networks, is key in growing a robust economy for everyone.
This past year has been like no other, where businesses, post-secondary institutions and local governments have had to pivot, embrace new technologies and establish new ways of connecting.
As Western Canada’s leader in gig speed internet, we understand how important access to quality high-speed connectivity has been for residents and businesses during the pandemic to power their data-heavy applications. The hard work and investments we’ve made in building, upgrading and expanding our broadband and wireless networks and services will continue to allow us to deliver ultrafast speeds to Western Canadians over our existing infrastructure.
These ongoing investments are the foundation to providing our customers with service beyond one gigabit today and ultrafast speeds to more places in the future.
VIRGINIE: B.C., as a whole, and the Island in particular, are remarkable for our incredible people and our unlimited potential. The key towards a resilient and robust economic future lies in identifying and working toward a purpose, an economy that is inclusive and diverse, tied to innovation and cooperation across public and private institutions.
We want to ensure that people in the communities we serve can live up to their potential, so we want to provide excellent connectivity today and the bandwidth they need to future-proof their lives for tomorrow. For example, in the past year, Shaw launched Shaw Mobile, ultra-fast gigabit speeds across Vancouver Island, and started offering new services such as Smart Remote Office to strengthen network security for those working away from their normal office environment. Investing in services that people need helps support what a truly prosperous economy needs to work for everyone.
What is our region’s secret sauce when it comes to competing internationally to attract quality talent, businesses with household sustaining jobs, and investment?
DEAN: South Island offers the best of West Coast culture combined with the resources of a growing business community. I live in Sooke and Virginie lives in Victoria. We both live and work in beautiful natural settings with vibrant neighborhoods. And we are never short of adventures – there are all kinds of activities around every corner — be it cycling, hiking, surfing or SCUBA diving. People love living here and businesses can thrive here. We have a growing technology and innovation sector, stellar post-secondary institutions, and dependable infrastructure.
VIRGINIE: The single greatest aspect to this region are the people who live here – the South Island is home to some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. South Island communities also show a remarkable degree of variation, with an economy strongly tied to its rich endowment of natural resources. The Island has experienced change, but at the same manages to attract many new businesses and industries by its outstanding “quality of life” features.
What are you most excited about in terms of your own organization’s plans and potential?
DEAN: For Shaw, our focus continues to be on providing our residential and business customers excellent service, competition, and choice through our Shaw and Freedom Mobile brands. We remain committed to providing new technologies and services that support the growth and development of businesses, local governments, First Nations, and post-secondary institutions.
We are relentless in our drive to improve future connectivity. We understand that connected cities, autonomous vehicles, smart homes and individual devices of the future require powerful next-generation networks that are fast, responsive and massive in size and scale.
VIRGINIE: I feel very proud of the work Shaw is doing in the community to help keep our customers and residents stay connected – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that the pandemic has been especially challenging for charities and social support organizations in our communities, who have had to manage through major fundraising challenges while coping with the reality that the need for their services has never been greater.
We launched an initiative called Brighter Communities powered Shaw to provide support to several charitable organizations throughout the region and across B.C. This includes the Sooke Rotary, Can Assist, local First Nations, Rural Islands Economic Partnership, and the South Island Literacy Group, an organization dedicated to improving literacy and raising awareness of the value of life-long learning in our community.
DEAN: Another exciting development is the recent announcement that Rogers and Shaw will join forces to create a truly national provider that will bring strong competition, more choice and greater value for Canadian consumers and businesses.
The combined scale of our two companies offers an opportunity for investment, innovation and growth that is unprecedented in Canadian telecommunications history. With enhanced technology and services comes the possibility of new and exciting connectivity solutions, something we are passionate about.
What’s one thing about your organization you really want people to know that they probably don’t know?
DEAN: From a technology standpoint, many people may not know that Shaw has a robust fibre optic network throughout South Island, which allows us to quickly launch new services for residents and businesses without having to replace our connections to homes or businesses.
The breadth of this network is also beneficial to residents and businesses as it allows us to deploy our fastest speeds to the vast majority of our customers at the same time, not just in certain neighborhoods. To be part of an organization that is helping consumers and businesses understand and integrate the latest technology into their future plans, is amazing.
We are also very much a part of the Victoria and South Island community, with hundreds of our Shaw employees choosing to live and work in the area. I often hear from my colleagues how work/life balance at Shaw is really supported. When you live in a spectacular place like I do, that is really key.
VIRGINIE: I echo Dean’s comments. Being able to empower people and create relevant and meaningful ways to help connect people is one of the reasons I joined Shaw. I also really appreciate and value that Shaw is an active supporter of organizations and charities that strive to make the region a better place to live, work and play. We all play a role in each community we are part of.
What challenges are you most invested in helping our community overcome and why?
DEAN: As mentioned previously, we are committed to supporting the real challenges that our regional charities and organizations are facing as a result of COVID-19 and have launched several initiatives designed to help them with awareness and fundraising efforts. Throughout the pandemic we have contributed millions of dollars to hundreds of charities in over 75 communities across Canada, including providing devices and connectivity to marginalized groups, supporting local food security initiatives, assisting local small businesses, providing relief and recovery grants to local charities, and providing free virtual digital literacy education to thousands of students and families.
VIRGINIE: We also recognize that having access to high-speed internet service is critical to future economic development. We enable this by offering simple and smart connectivity solutions for businesses of all sizes, investing heavily in our network that will expand our reach and improve our customers’ experience.
What lessons have most profoundly impacted you since the pandemic sent shockwaves through our community and economy?
DEAN: Never has true connectivity and broadband access been as urgent or as in dire need as during the pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, with businesses working remotely and students learning at home, our network traffic increased more than 50% in the first few weeks of the pandemic and hasn’t slowed down since. Luckily, we were able to easily manage the increased demand for service as a result of the significant investments we’ve made to our broadband network – nearly $32 billion over the last eight years.
VIRGINIE: I learned that people and organizations can work together to face challenges and new realities. I am truly impressed with the work accomplished and how resilient and innovative we have been as a community and as a company. For example, at the start of the pandemic, Shaw opened Shaw Go WiFi – Canada’s largest WiFi network – to give everyone across Shaw’s footprint access to hundreds-of-thousands of WiFi hotspots for free.
When you envision the South Island region in 2040, what will have changed? What does our future look like?
VIRGINIE: The pandemic pushed us to adopt more digital services and to look for new and better ways to connect people and businesses. The pandemic taught us that, by embracing new technologies, we will have greater flexibility in how and where we work. By continuing to take advantage of all the benefits that fast high-speed connections can offer, the South Island region in 2040 could be defined as a leading Canadian tech sector hub that continues to attract businesses and workers from all around the world.
DEAN: Furthermore, with Shaw and Rogers coming together, this allows us to continue building on Shaw’s legacy of creating more choice and value for Canadians. Our combined assets will help create transformative national high-speed broadband internet and super-fast networks that will benefit South Vancouver Island residents. Our combined organization will also help to better serve rural and Indigenous communities in the area, and work to eliminate the digital divide between people in some of these areas and large cities.
VIRGINIE: While our region will undoubtedly grow, our vibrant neighborhoods, friendly communities, and exceptional West Coast lifestyle and hospitality will remain.