If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably think air was free.
NetSet Communications, also the 2016/17 Manitoba Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Medium Business of the Year, started as Inet Link. Twelve years ago, knowing it was the only way to provide faster, more reliable Internet, Clark decided to buy up all the Manitoba air (technical word: spectrum) outside Winnipeg.
Today, NetSet Communications remains privately owned and is the largest supplier of licensed high-speed Internet to people working and living in rural Manitoba.
“NetSet started small,” said Robbie Zetariuk, NetSet’s executive director of corporate sales and marketing. “Now we have over 240 towers. We’re adding an additional 42 towers this year, as well as updating our entire network to TD-LTE.
“This is going to help us provide faster speeds and more consistent service to our over-14,000 members – and to continue reaching new members across the province.”
Despite the number and height of its towers, NetSet has kept its boots on the ground. While one of the company’s focuses is to build their enterprise client base throughout Manitoba (including Winnipeg), their bread-and-butter mission is more local – to enrich the lives of people living and working in rural Manitoba.
“NetSet’s never lost sight of its roots,” said Zetariuk. “We remember where we’re from. We’re local and rural, top to bottom. We care about our members and we make a real point of connecting to our members’ communities. We have 15 dealers province-wide – this allows us to enlist people our members know and trust to help them in their homes or businesses. We’re proud to be able to provide job opportunities across the province, too.”
NetSet’s emphasis on community connection spreads from their work in providing that very connection – in high-speed Internet form, allowing members to learn, work and get to know each other – to the ways they do business.
“What’s special about us is that we’re all about people,” said Zetariuk. “We spend time with our members. We’re engaged in our environment. We go out to events – fairs, carnivals, what-have-you – NetSet is there. It’s important we show these people, our members, how much they mean to us – and how much we want to see their communities thrive.
“On the customer-service side, we don’t just answer phones – we drop by our members’ homes, businesses. That’s what’s special about us – we really do care.”
Though they have a satellite office in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, NetSet’s headquarters and 24-7 call centre are in Brandon. From that Brandon HQ, NetSet serves thousands of customers across Manitoba – each with their own set of needs.
“Our spectrum – and our partnerships with other carriers in the province – mean we can provide our members with seamless, stable, reliable high-speed Internet connections at rates they can afford,” said Zetariuk. “We serve people whose needs are minimal – maybe they only use their Internet for email, or gaming – all the way up to clients who need the Internet to run an online store or manage their international business.
“They can depend on their connection. They can depend on our service. They can depend on us.”
Due to a boom in residents, small business development and large-scale enterprise, the southeast corner of the province is NetSet’s main target for growth in the coming years.
In Winnipeg, they will continue to add to their formidable list of enterprise clients. With dedicated advisory teams and a number of packages for different-sized businesses with varying needs, NetSet provides top-notch Internet service solutions for enterprise organizations, including those with multiple office locations – even if those other locations are out-of-country. NetSet provides its enterprise customers with dedicated, symmetrical service of speeds up to 1G.
Like many Information and Communication Technologies Association of Manitoba members, NetSet believes in doing its part to level the playing field and remove what they call “the digital divide”.
“People and businesses don’t have to be in urban centres anymore,” said Zetariuk. “They can be anywhere. Startups don’t have to be in metropolitan centres – they can be successful in the communities they’ve always called home. We can help them do that.
“We’re all about the human connection. When the Internet started taking off – and it wasn’t that long ago – there was this fear it would alienate people. Widen the divide between them. If anything, the Internet has grown the connection between people. This has allowed us to be the ones who facilitate these connections, and that’s something really special.
We’re here to make good things happen for people. I really believe that.”