& cplSiteName &

WiMax & 'Jet Blue Economics'

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
11/16/2005
50%
50%

Just what does it take to build a business serving wireless broadband to enterprise customers in a space that is littered with the burnt-out remains of startups that have tried and generally failed to, ahem, light up the market.

Jeff Thompson, the newly appointed CEO of business-oriented wireless broadband service provider TowerStream Corp. was on hand to provide some insights in his keynote this afternoon at the latest Light Leading Live show, WiMax: From Development to Deployment, held at the Westin Times Square in New York City this Wednesday.

Thompson hit on a variety of topics during his hour-long presentation, but he focused on how a startup can build and expand a wireless broadband business in the face of fierce competition from competitors new and old, service and maintain a customers, and exploit the advantages of wireless in getting service up and running quickly.

“It’s 'Jet Blue' economics versus 'Delta' economics,” Thompson told the crowd.

Own the infrastructure, own the air
TowerStream owns its own metro-ring backbone and last-mile connectivity in the U.S., and this is a key factor in controlling its outlay, according to the CEO: “There’s no monthly recurring costs."

Similarly, the company has been trying to “scoop up properties throughout major markets in the U.S.,” so that when it comes time to place its “pre-WiMax” base stations, the firm can offer customers the best line-of-sight or near line-of-sight connections and set them up quickly.

“Customer acquisition costs are much less expensive when you have prime real estate,” Thompson says.

And TowerStream has already leased some major “beachfront properties” -- as Thompson calls them -- most notably The Empire State Building in NYC.

But getting such access is a definite potential hangup for startups looking to enter the market. “It literally takes years to sign quality leases,” warns Thompson.

And the firm won’t “light up” a customer’s premises on a whim, even if it has base stations in place. “Every time we light a building it’s with a customer that gives us at least $500 a month." What does a WiMax customer want anyway?
Unsurprisingly, customers for wireless broadband services are like technology buyers the world over: They want low cost, reliability, high data transfer speeds, and customer service.

“One of the things they like about TowerStream is the fact that they get to speak to a representative within 30 seconds,” says Thompson.

But he adds that recent events have opened people’s eyes to the need for speed of installation and flexibility of wireless for broadband customers.

“We can install in 48 hours… That’s been crucial in the last two months with all of the weather that has affected legacy equipment.

“It’s been monsoon weather in New York and New England [two of the firm’s key markets]… We’ve had 10 inches of rain. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The never-ending rain resulted in flooding and the loss of connectivity for some users running over copper. “There’s no way you’re able to repair soaked copper when it’s still covered with rain -- we were able to get them up and running."

More services at lower cost
One of the keys to working with WiMax and the precursors to this technology is to exploit the new applications offered by wireless broadband. VOIP is a key service for the TowerStream chief.

“The WiMAX Forum has been very proactive, not just with fixed but with mobile as well, in supporting VOIP,” notes Thompson, who adds that WiMax vendors have SOHO/CPE units with SIP ports onboard. Session Initial Protocol (SIP) is the code that enables an IP call setup over these networks. Indeed SOMA Networks Inc. showed Unstrung a pre-WiMax unit with RJ jacks for home phones here at the show.

“It enables us to offer products that did not exist in the past,” says the TowerStream boss.

Spectrum? No problem
Interestingly, Thompson has a unique take on the issue of the availability of licensed WiMax spectrum in the U.S., something that many talking heads say could dog the adoption of the technology over here.

TowerStream has always used unlicensed spectrum for its services, and Thompson doesn’t expect that to change any time soon. “We’ve got plenty of spectrum now... and in my opinion, the spectrum is the most polluted it has ever been right now. I think it’s actually going to get better."

Part of this improvement will be precipitated by the arrival of the first wave of standardized WiMax equipment in 2006, Thompson reckons, because wireless channel sizes will be more regular, predictable, and quite possibly smaller. “We’ll get rid of the some of the weird 30MHz channels from the proprietary guys,” he chuckles. “Things are actually going to improve.”

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
From The Founder
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP’s Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it’s going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Innovations in Cable

5|26|16   |   03:18   |   (0) comments


Marc Aldrich from Cisco discusses the latest in security, the evolution and momentum for CCAP and what the industry will be seeing next from Cisco.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2016 Highlights

5|25|16   |   02:26   |   (1) comment


Some of the high points from this year's Leading Lights awards dinner at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2016

5|23|16   |   05:43   |   (0) comments


Find out who has been welcomed into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE TM Forum Highlights

5|23|16   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcased its new ICT solutions at TM Forum in Nice.
LRTV Interviews
Gamma's MD on the Emergence of UC2

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Gamma Communications Managing Director David Macfarlane believes the unified communications (UC) market has reached a tipping point.
LRTV Custom TV
The Ultimate 5-Minute Guide to Digital Customer Engagement

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this short video, you will hear all about how Digital Customer Engagement is the key to meeting customer expectations, keeping them happy, and maximizing revenue. VP Product & Marketing at Pontis, Ofer Razon, breaks down for us the five essential capabilities for successful Digital Customer Engagement. Don’t miss!
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 1 – NFV Use Cases Get Real

5|19|16   |   05:57   |   (0) comments


Consensus is building around the key use cases for NFV, including managed IP services at the network edge and on customer premises, which can generate new revenues from enterprises/SMBs and consumers; Evolved Packet Core to support LTE migration; and adjacent technologies, such as TAS and IMS, to support VoLTE and next-generation charging and policy control ...
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 3

5|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang discusses the challenges of operational transformation and how Nokia helps its customers. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Why UC Is In Demand

5|17|16   |   04:12   |   (1) comment


Andrew Edison, Level 3's senior VP of sales, EMEA region, talks about the drivers of growth in the unified communications services market.
LRTV Custom TV
ARM's OPNFV Action

5|17|16   |     |   (0) comments


At the ARM booth at MWC 2016, Joe Kidder and Bob Monkman speak to Light Reading about OPNFV and their upcoming action.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 2

5|16|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang gives advice to service providers on how to move to NFV. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Interoute CTO on NFV's Maturity

5|13|16   |   06:46   |   (1) comment


Matt Finnie, CTO at international operator Interoute, explains how NFV has made life easier in terms of logistics and how Interoute can now enable a 'software-defined moment' for its customers.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
December 6-8, 2016,
June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
DT: Telcos Must Escape Vendor Prison
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/24/2016
AT&T to Start 5G 'Friendly' Trial by 2016 End
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/24/2016
Cisco's Patel Hails 'Microculture' Successes
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/26/2016
Cable Is Eyeing Its Retail Options
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/25/2016
AT&T's Margaret Chiosi Retires
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 5/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.