Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Taking America's heartland by storm: WISPs swoop into areas neglected by wireline providers

Telecompetitor reports several WISPs are sweeping into several U.S. markets where wireline broadband service isn't offered. Not surprisingly, they are quickly signing up customers who have been waiting in vain for years for telcos and cable companies to provide high speed Internet:

All of these companies are targeting “underserved” rural markets with a broadband alternative. Underserved generally is a code word for markets served by large RBOCs and/or MSOs who have not invested in local broadband networks. These markets are often identified as a part of the “digital divide.” DigitalBridge says they have reached 10% penetration within 6 months of one their first market entries, Rexburg, ID. These growing rural deployments are leveraging quickly evolving broadband wireless technology and pent up demand for broadband in markets where little or no broadband competition exists.

According to Telecompetitor, one of the WISPs, Oklahoma City-based Stelera Wireless, has rolled out service in Floresville & Poth, Texas using recently auctioned spectrum offering maximum speeds of 7.2 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up. However, Stelera informs me that its users get average download speeds of 1.5-2 Mbps down and 350-380 Kbps for uploads.

Notably, the WISP does not use telco circuits for backhaul connections, instead relying on its proprietary OC-3 and OC-12 microwave network. In Stelera's Texas markets, service is backhauled to San Antonio via microwave and from there via long haul ethernet to Stelera's Oklahoma City HQ POP.

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