Tour de France Gives Boost to Dejero


The world’s most famous bicycle race is creating new business opportunities for a local company that specializes in delivering reliable internet connections for broadcasters.

When Geraint Thomas won the Tour de France at the end of July, the British cyclist also increased the profile of Waterloo tech company Dejero. The support vehicle that followed Thomas was equipped with Dejero technology. It streamed live coverage of the race to the iPads in the support vehicle, which is typically about a kilometre behind the front of the race.

“We have had all sorts of people coming to us from all sorts of different fields saying, ‘Actually, we could use this,'” said Rob Waters, Dejero’s director of sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Thomas was a member of Team Sky, one of 22 teams in the Tour de France, each with eight riders. For the race last month, a router made by Dejero called GateWay was placed in the trunk of the support vehicle. The vehicle had three passengers, spare parts, first aid supplies and several bicycles on the roof.

Until the Tour de France, the GateWay router was used to broadcast video from a moving vehicle. During the race, it was used to create a reliable, broadband internet connection that streamed live video of the cyclists onto the support team’s iPads inside the vehicle.

As a result, the support team knew right away if one of its riders was in some kind of trouble and needed help because of a punctured tire, mechanical problems or a bad fall. In the past, the support team received that information from a telephone call or radio link. In this year’s race, they knew right away when something was wrong, and accelerated past the other riders to help their team member.

In a race where every second counts, Dejero says its technology shaved 15 to 30 seconds off the support vehicle’s response time. Thomas won the race and another Team Sky member, Chris Froome, placed third. Team Sky was the only team to have two finishers among the top 5.

“So all sorts of opportunities have come out of nowhere as a result of this because everybody looked at Dejero as pretty much a point-to-point transmission for news,” Waters said in a phone interview from his home in England.

“And what we’ve done is turn that technology specialization on its head and said, ‘What we can do is create a huge bandwidth of genuine internet connectivity in random locations.'”

The GateWay router in the trunk of the support vehicle maintained connectivity as the vehicle moved past different cell towers during the 3,500-kilometre long race through cities, over farmland and up and down mountains, and in all weather.

This same technology could be used during live shows, disaster relief operations and for maintaining business operations when a satellite connection fails, said Waters.

“All sorts of opportunities have come out of nowhere as a result of this,” he said.

Dejero, headquartered in Waterloo, was founded 10 years ago by Bogdan Frusina. The publicity around the Tour de France is helping the company in European markets.

“Dejero has been very strong in terms of North America. We are a Canadian company, we have a very strong base in Canada, and also North America,” said Waters.

“For us over here in Europe, we are little behind the curve in terms of the growth of the business. So for us in Europe it has been fantastic, it has given us a boost in terms of our profile as a business.”

Christophe Ena, The Associated Press file photo

Eventual winner Geraint Thomas, wearing the yellow leader’s jersey on July 27, and the rest of Team Sky benefited from Dejero’s GateWay router at the Tour de France. – Christophe Ena, The Associated Press file photo


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