Shake-up at Edgewater Wireless

The management of an Ottawa maker of outdoor Wi-Fi access points has been shaken up with a new member of the board and the shifting of its CEO.

Edgewater Wireless Systems Inc. said Tuesday that telecom veteran Claude Haw, who is chairman of the board of packet microwave solutions maker DragonWave Inc., has joined the Edgewater board.

At the same time it said board member and CEO Greg Fielding is being shifted back to the parent company, Edgewater Computer Systems (ECS).

ECS makes wired and wireless network solutions. Edgewater Wireless exploits some of its technology.

“The value that Greg brought to the company (Edgewater Wireless) was on the technology side,” said company president Andrew Skafel. “As part of a long-term strategy he is migrating back to Edgewater Computer Systems.

An engineer, Fielding has worked with the semiconductor division of Texas Instruments, where he rose to be manager of that company’s networking and telecommunications ASIC design centre in Ottawa. After working for Engim Inc. he joined Edgewater in 2005.

Edgewater Wireless chairman and ECS founder Duane Anderson will be the interim CEO until a replacement has been found.

Skafel said the change wasn’t a signal of problems at the company. But, he said, Haw “brings with him a pretty extensive network of contacts and relationships and a long-standing view of the industry. It’s a huge asset bringing him on the board of directors.”

Haw is the president and co-founder of Venture Coaches, a VC and management consulting firm. He has also held executive positions at Newbridge Networks, now part of Alcatel-Lucent.

The change comes after Edgewater received just under $1 million in funding, the first tranche of a $2.5 million private sale of shares.

That money will in part be used to increase production to meet a $4.9 million sale of access points to World Affinity Telecom, which is building a Wi-Fi network across Sierra Leone in Western Africa.

But it also comes as Edgewater Wireless stock, traded on the TSX venture exchange, has been dropping since a promising peak early in the year. It had been trading in the 48 cent range in February. It’s now around .065 cents.

The company, which is a year old, has had a fair year. In addition to raising $2.5 million and the World Affinity deal, it announced its first $1 million order for a distributorin Brazil, signed up distributors in Mexico and El Salvador (covering Central America) and introduced a new line of access points.

But it still doesn’t have distribution here.

“It’s a challenge being a small technology company,” said Skafel. “We found we’re getting a lot of attention internationally and that’s where most of our focus is.”

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