By Emily Anderson and Dave Keith
As Lakeland Networks looks in the rear-view mirror at the successes of the year 2022, we can be proud of the many obstacles that we have endured, and our many accomplishments that have allowed us to make headway.
In 2022, Lakeland Holding Ltd. and its collective companies (Lakeland Networks, Lakeland Power, Lakeland Generation, and Lakeland Solutions) completed market research regarding company names, consumer feedback, and overall branding. This research determined that a re-modelling of our logos and brands was necessary to better align all five companies under one brand, as current and potential customers predominantly identify all companies as “Lakeland”. In May of this year, Lakeland Networks initiated their rebranding which involved updating outdoor signage, our fleet of vehicles, all online presences such as social media and our main website, internal and external marketing materials such as brochures, and event displays. By the end of August, the implementation of the rebranding was completed. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback regarding the newly rebranded look and are proud to have it displayed throughout our communities.
In January of this year, we made the decision to move forward with chatbot functionality on our website that would enhance online customer engagement. We’ve determined through studies that 50% of the online community enjoys the opportunity to interface with a chatbot for frequently asked questions. Essentially, a chatbot is a computer technology that works to replicate or automate conversation with our existing and potential customers. In October, after weeks of hard work developing the chatbot, we officially launched our virtual assistant, SAM. SAM is now available to speak to you 24/7 on the Lakeland Networks’ website. We have received positive responses from those who have interacted with SAM, and we look forward to the chatbot’s continuous development and improvement.
Lakeland Networks continues to increase fibre construction internally vs. using contractors; this allows us to build out our network at more feasible costs and create jobs locally. A major step forward this year was the addition of a new drill. This drill allows us to bore underground in areas that were previously inaccessible or not financially feasible. This has resulted in a turnkey operation for network construction allowing us to increase our 600km of Fibre network further.
Living in Canada comes with great benefit except when it comes to laying fibre in colder months. Canada’s winter season does not allow us to bury Fibre drops to customer homes. Our solution is to provide a temporary drop until more seasonable weather is upon us. In 2022, our non-construction season resulted in an all-time high number of temporary drops that needed to be converted to permanent drops (buried) Spring to Fall 2022. Lakeland Networks would like to apologize for the inconvenience that these temporary drops can cause. However, internet connectivity is an essential service required by our customers which is why we do our utmost to get you connected. Our temporary drop process allows us to connect our customers 12 months of the year when the construction season is typically only 6-8 months.
On June 30th we finalized over $11 million in government funded projects for fibre builds that were awarded to Lakeland Networks. Funded fibre projects were completed from Severn Bridge to South River. The timeline for this funded construction and activation of our new network infrastructure was 12 months overall. Funded developments made our fibre internet service available to thousands of homes and businesses. There have been multiple funding projects made available to Internet Services Providers in Canada; for more information please read this Lakeland Community post: Making High Speed Internet Accessible in Every Community.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many supply shortages have occurred and normal production and delivery times have been long, varied, or unavailable. This type of inconsistency has a major effect on companies such as ours who depend on continuous builds of fibre broadband, with stock and materials being a crucial element for all projects. In addition, we rely on materials to ensure each employee has ample work and that we are connecting customers according to market demand and schedule. Overall costs for goods in the marketplace significantly increased in 2022. This supply chain shortage and cost fluctuation was applicable to our vehicle fleet requirements as well. These supply chain issues relate to the very basics of economics – supply and demand; the supply was low, and demand was high, equaling high prices. This overall economic situation has slowly improved, yet quick relief is far from sight.
With internet becoming such an essential service and prevalent form of communication, networks and users are subject to more cyber-attacks. This year, to ensure we will be protected as an organization, we made substantial upgrades for our internal network to ensure the viability and successful continuation of our business.
Lakeland Networks has seen another great year of customer growth; this related to continued fibre builds that Lakeland has designed and completed. The need for the internet is more prevalent now than ever. This is highlighted by billions of dollars’ worth of funding opportunities in the global marketplace. As we reflect on the past year, we have been extremely fortunate to receive funding that assists us in building fibre out to our local serviceable communities.
In 2022, some internal re-organization was necessary to better align our company to the responsibilities and success that comes with growth as we’ve experienced in the past three years, as well as prepare for the anticipated growth of the future. Organizational developments were primarily made in our sales, customer service, technical support, and outside construction departments. Lakeland Networks’ goal is to retain and expand our team, while offering opportunities for growth.
As we continue our journey into 2023, we look forward to more accomplishments and successes, and servicing the people of our local communities.