Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Another WISP entering El Dorado County

NuTel Broadband Corporation, a broadband wireless managed services provider based in Cranbury, NJ, announced it plans to deploy wireless "mesh" broadband networks in Sacramento, Chico, San Jose and El Dorado County as part of a 14-state rollout.

The rollout is targeting underserved suburban and rural subscribers and small-to-medium sized businesses in regions where broadband wireless network services have been limited or generally unavailable, according to NuTel.

NuTel CEO Joe Fiero says unlike most wireless broadband systems that utilize a copper cable-based data line to connect them to the Internet, NuTel uses fiber optic cable as the system "backhaul," providing a minimum throughput of 45 Mbps, offering plenty of bandwidth for future growth. It will also offer proprietary network VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) that allows subscribers to make digital voice telephone calls over the system.

Fiero says NuTel expects to offer 192/192 kbps Internet connectivity for $14.99 a month, 1.5/1.5 mbps for $34.99, and a bundled Internet and unlimited digital voice calling product at $59.99 per month.

In hilly terrains like El Dorado County, wireless faces a major technological challenge since it requires a clear, unobstructed line of sight to reach end users. Not NuTel's "mesh" system it's deploying in conjuction with Santa Clara-based SkyPilot Networks, which Fiero says is based on a "close spaced node topology that gives us the ability to saturate the coverage area."

Given the many underserved areas of El Dorado that are clearly within NuTel's stated target market such as parts of Placerville, Garden Valley, Camino, Pollock Pines, Pleasant Valley and Mosquito, I asked Fiero when NuTel would be deploying in these areas. Unfortunately despite their starkly underserved status with no broadband services, Fiero didn't have good news.

Turns out parts of Folsom and El Dorado Hills are running short of DSL connections from AT&T (AT&T isn't confirming this) and NuTel will roll out there first, eventually making its way east up Highway 50. Fiber optic cable is also more readily available in Folsom and EDH at this time, Fiero explains.

Memo to Mr. Fiero: fiber is also available farther up the hill. Those who have been stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide surrounding Placerville will surely be watching with interest to see if NuTel can get its system off the ground on the western edge of the county during this initial deployment and if it lives up to its stated mission of providing service in underserved areas where broadband is not available.


Anonymous said...

Well i e-mailed nutel and asked about their plans for pollock pines. i got this response a week ago and after responding i haven't heard from them. It gives some hope. might be like AT&T promises though.


Thanks for asking about our service. We are presently looking at the Apple Hill, Camino, and Pollock Pines markets. Obviously if we had significant requests for service from your area we would look into building out our network sooner. Where in town do you live? Would your neighbors be interested as well? We would definitely entertain a partnership up your way with a small communications type company or a satellite dealer.

Gary LaFrancis

NuTel Broadband Corporation





Fred Pilot said...

Aside from the obvious technical challenges of making wireless broadband work reliably in the hilly terrain of these areas, NuTel's statement reflects a fatally flawed marketing strategy.

A provider of a leading edge service such as this cannot rely on a passive "marketing" strategy that requires customers to first request service before it's offered. Such a strategy is doomed to failure because most consumers don't even know about NuTel's wireless broadband service in the first place. How then can they be expected to request it?

NuTel's management needs a refresher course in Marketing 101.

Anonymous said...

Another response from a WISP in eldorado. this one was

First I would like to thank you for expressing interest in our wireless services. Currently we do not have service in your area. I will definitely keep you in mind, as we are expanding our service areas rapidly. The more interest we have in your area the faster we will be able to get service out there, so tell your neighbors to express their interest as well and we look forward to serving you in the future.


Amber Husak

same response as nutel.

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