After attending my first Wireless Internet Providers meeting – WISP PALOOZA – my head has been spinning with thoughts and emotions. This community reminded me of the first VoIP group in 2007 at VON organized by Jeff Pulver. WISP PALOOZA was well-attended by an enthusiastic group of entrepreneurs. They discussed their innovative ideas and efforts for delivering broadband to every corner of the US.
The US, which ranks only #15 out of the top 34 nations in broadband penetration, has a large percentage of households still hungry for good Internet connectivity. The reason the US has lagged behind is due to the monopolies established by Verizon, Comcast, Cox and other traditional service providers. The US government wastes billions of dollars on these “big guys” who lobby for more subsidies, but rarely deliver; while there are 2,500 WISPs who deploy services to millions of households without spending one cent of taxpayer dollars
One of the keynotes speakers, Lori Randall of www.Social-media-design.com, pointed out other key distinctions between traditional carriers and WISPSs:
- fail to innovate, and
WISPs fight back by,
- been personal
- making things easy to understand
- offering services easy to use
- innovating by asking for their pain
- being considerate of customer’s situation
Matt Larsen, the keynote speaker, gave the most impressive presentation: “Real American Heroes.” His blog, http://www.wirelesscowboys.com/, contains numerous whitepapers and suggestions for both policymakers and WISPs. The points of his talk that resonated most for me are:
- Wireline has fixed expenses and variable income; fixed wireless has variable expenses based on income;
- WISPs power 75% of Texas and 58% of Nebraska. Illinois also has a high percentage WISP usage;
- WISPs are the third pipe;
- “Mobile Wireless” (an unpredictable and pathetically expensive service) should not be confused with “Fixed Wireless Broadband;”
- Policymakers need to throw more brains into the problem instead of more money;
- WISPs are dynamic users of spectrum and the fastest way to turn empty spectrum;
- WISPs can restore competition into stagnant markets and stimulate innovation.
A couple of years ago, my friend and long time colleague Brough Turner was talking about WISPs and their entrepreneurial approach; but, as usual, it takes me some time before I understand his fast thinking.
You can download my detailed notes from WISP PALOOZA clicking this link (13MB)