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In September 2022 Xplornet became Xplore. Read more here.

Evan Schroeder, co-founder of Swift High Speed along with business partner Chris Teetaert, were born and raised in Kleefeld, Manitoba, a small farming community. Now, the first fibre project he’s embarking on after completing the Xplornet acquisition of Swift is right in his hometown.

“It’s the first full fibre project we’re doing together with Xplornet: 650 homes, a school, a number of small businesses and a gas station,” he explained.

After he and his wife married at age 18, their intention was to take over the family dairy farm but because of her asthma and allergies, they couldn’t. They decided to sell the farm and move from Kleefeld to New Bothwell, the town famous for its cheese curds. It actually used to be Schroeder farm’s milk that was used to make these high-end dairy products. “I’m a country boy through and through,” Evan said.

On their new rural property, the newlyweds started another business called Splatters Paintball. At this time, Evan also installed Internet for Xplornet on the side, which he fit in after his paintball business closed for the day. He later learned how to help friends and family with IT technical issues, and with the same entrepreneurial spirit he brings to everything in his life, made a career out of that skill as well.

One of his IT customers owned a small Internet company called Chill Communications and hired Evan and Chris to run the company. Two years later, they purchased it and operated as Swift High Speed for close to eight years. Over the course of those eight years, Swift acquired three other local Internet companies and grew to become the powerhouse that we know today.

Swift High Speed was as a fixed wireless-only company until the spring of 2019 when they decided to start installing fibre. “As we started that process, we decided to do the construction work on our own. We bought all our own equipment. It’s really nice to control end-to-end so that we can make sure the project goes ahead quickly,” he said.

Originally, they thought fibre to the tower was their objective, but in 2020, they started doing fibre-to-the-home because it improved every user’s experience. “We found that as we installed town by town, the town with fibre-to-the-home service would get better, but also those in the country would have improved service because we took half the load off that tower,” he explained.

When Xplornet showed interest in purchasing Swift, Evan saw it as a huge opportunity for growth and stability.

“We couldn’t grow Swift because we didn’t have the finances. We decided to sell our company and be part of someone else’s next successful chapter. Now our focus has changed from trying to figure things out on our own to using Xplornet’s expertise to get fibre to as many homes as we can in this area,” Evan explained.

Without licensed spectrum, which refers to the radio waves used for telecommunication, Swift would never have been able to offer 5G to their fixed wireless customers. With Xplornet’s spectrum holdings, they now can.

For eight months before the sale, all Evan could think about was how to guarantee that his customer’s experience stayed positive.

“Xplornet and Swift both had the same intentions: to move customers to a better platform, be that fibre or 5G, as soon as it was available and to allow the Swift team to fully manage the existing network until that time came to migrate to the technology of the future,” Evan described.

These shared intentions helped Evan build confidence in the decision. He also went on to test Xplornet’s customer service line.

“I had a team member call every couple of hours and the longest he waited was two and a half minutes. That’s a whole new Xplornet. That was a big concern for me. Do my customers have to call and wait an hour to speak to someone? But Xplornet is just two and a half minutes away and when you call them, they are a company that cares. To prove it, just call,” he said.

In Evan’s words, finding a buyer for your company is a lot like dating and when you sell, it’s like getting married – you find out who the company really is.

He quickly found out that Xplornet has a lot of faith in the expertise of the industrious business owners they collaborate with.

“We’re still here and our staff still care at the local level. As we do construction town by town you can rest assured knowing it’s a local Kleefeld boy constructing next-generation technology in front of your house in Kleefeld,” he said. “Xplornet was the only company who was willing to guarantee that local techs could continue servicing local customers,” he said.

Now, Evan feels like he’s part of a Canada-wide success story as Xplornet continues to invest in fibre and 5G infrastructure and help Canadians connect to what matters most. Last year, Xplornet launched Canada’s first rural 5G standalone network in New Brunswick, with plans to expand to 250 additional rural communities over 2022. The company also has fibre-to-the-home projects underway in Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, as well a recent announcement to bring fibre-to-the-home to 200,000 homes and business across Ontario.

“I've been self-employed my whole life and I knew it would be a shift to become an employee of sorts, but I have had no concerns at all. My voice and my staff’s voices are being heard. We’re part of the process and it really makes us feel like we’re part of the big success story.”

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