At Wispapalooza 2013, this week in Las Vegas, the focus was on delivering better, faster, cheaper fixed wireless broadband. WISPs primarly deliver fixed broadband to underserved markets, primarily for rural users as well as enterprise and public service users.
A number of innovative technologies, techniques, and marketing were introduced at this year’s show. We’ll get to some of the new products and services a bit later.
Last year some 15-20 million people were not served by landline broadband. But in the last year the situation has improved. Now three viable choices are often available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) can provide fixed broadband service where DSL and cable modems aren’t available. WISPs can provide faster service than landline and doesn’t have a restrictive monthly cap like cellular.
- Cellular LTE for rural users. Last year Verizon announced special gear and service plan for rural users. Verizon’s service delivers broadband though a rooftop antenna and a WiFi connection. But it doesn’t come cheap. Verizon’s HomeFusion service costs $59.99 a month for 10 GB of data per month, $89.99/mo for 20GB, and $119.99/mo with a 30GB cap. Users also have to buy an antenna that is professionally installed on the outside of their home for $200.
- Satellite Internet utilizes geosynchronous satellites that are dedicated to two-way connectivity. The two leading providers for fixed satellite broadband are DishNet and Excede. DISH launched their satellite broadband service a year ago. Service starts at $40 a month, for 5 Mbps down & 1Mbps up with a 10GB data cap.
DishNET competes with ViaSat Exede, which ViaSat launched last year using a similar satellite ViaSat-1. ViaSat-1 supplements earlier satellite broadband by their previous satellite, WildBlue-1. The WildBlue company was bought two years ago by ViaSat. Charlie Ergin’s Echostar bought the Hughes High throughput satellite (EchoStar XVII) to enable dishNET.
Steve Shute, of Exede, demos their phone service using the Exede satellite internet service. The half-second latency of satellite internet and data caps are drawbacks.
Different users have different needs. These three solutions may provide a solution that wasn’t possible as little as a year ago.