Boulder data radio firm XetaWave lands contact with ‘major’ oil company

At the tail end of last year, Boulder-based XetaWave landed a contract that served to quickly transform the startup developer of software-defined data radios.

In November, XetaWave inked a contact to sell 1,600 radios to an unnamed Ethernet network operator. The deal — XetaWave’s first — represented more than $1 million in revenue for the company launched in 2010 by a co-founder of Boulder data radio firm FreeWave Technologies.

On Wednesday, XetaWave landed another game-changer.

Officials for the privately held firm announced that a “major oil company” ordered  XetaWave radios to support its wireless communications across 15,000 sites in the Bakken Shale region. XetaWave did not disclose the company’s name.

“When you start a company you come up with a business plan,” XetaWave CEO Jonathan Sawyer said. “We just blew away that business plan. … It’s like grabbing onto a racehorse and holding on while you get dragged along.”

XetaWave’s 22-person workforce at its Valtec Lane facility currently is cranking out roughly 150 radios a week. That should grow to 750-per-week within four months, Sawyer said, adding the firm most likely will have to hire about five to 10 people and move to larger quarters within Boulder County.

“We’re very pleased about (the growth) and a little shell-shocked about how we’re going to be able to grow as fast as our customers want us to grow,” Sawyer said.

The output of the Bakken formation, which spans parts of Canada, Montana and North Dakota, has increased to 700,000 barrels per day from 100,000 barrels per day in 2008, the Economist reported last month in its look at the booming shale business.

The Bakken Formation accounts for 91 percent of North Dakota’s oil production and estimates for how much oil the Bakken contains has ranged from 10 billion barrels in 1974 to as much as 503 billion barrels, according to the New York Times Magazine’s Jan 31 cover story “The Luckiest Place on Earth.”



About Alicia Wallace

Alicia Wallace is the business reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera.
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