Original article (French only) : La Presse
In 2019 Université Laval students Marc-André Campagna and Francis Careau noticed something odd: Internet service providers use dozens of different, and often incompatible, pieces of software. They decided to design a single software package that could automatically handle all operations, from supplier to customer. That’s how Oxio, which previously offered satellite internet services in under-serviced areas, got a new lease on life. Mr. Campagna is CEO and Mr. Careau is vice president of technology and products for the 41-person operation, which is entirely remote. The company has no central office space whatsoever. But it does have 10,000 customers.
You might wonder how an independent internet provider qualifies as “innovative.” But that’s just what Oxio has pulled off, with funding rounds totaling US$10 million and a spot at Y Combinator, the prestigious California incubator that launched Airbnb, DoorDash, Dropbox, and Pinterest. The intensive, three-month program started in mid-January.
Their secret? “We have a very different way of looking at the future of telecommunications,” says Marc-André Campagna. “We see a separation between physical networks and digital providers, much like what AWS has done with servers.”
Oxio offers Internet service across Quebec using Videotron’s hybrid fiber optic and cable network. All connection and data management processes are managed automatically.
“Customers can order in under five minutes and we send them a guide so they can get connected on their own,” explains the CEO.
“Where five or six people would normally be involved, our process is fully automated. We could handle 5 million orders a day with extremely low operating costs and much more competitive prices.”
- Marc-André Campagna, Oxio CEO
Everything at Oxio is “100% cloud,” he says. The small, officeless startup doesn’t have servers, uses a partner to send modems and routers to subscribers, and markets its services online. Mr. Campagna says their software is so powerful it can diagnose network issues “upstream,” before customers even notice them.
That means prices up to 30% lower than the big guys, router and modem included. For example, unlimited 60 Mb/s internet costs $45 per month, with no contract and no installation fees. According to PlanHub.ca, an equivalent plan costs $60 with Videotron and $59.95 with Bell (for 50 Mb/s). “These are not short-term promotions. Our prices are stable,” the CEO says.
The future is bright
Mr. Campagna has big plans for the next ten years. In addition to its current Videotron connection, Oxio wants to piggyback on as many networks as possible. They’re hoping to add cellular service to the mix as well, if, as he points out, “we can achieve an affordable price point.”
“In the long term, we want to introduce a wide range of digital services, such as home automation and the Internet of Things.
We’re a fast-growing company and our long-term vision is to become a platform connected to all networks. We have a lot of software development to do, we have a lot to learn, and Silicon Valley is the best place for us to do it.”