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October 18, 2021
Fiber provider Tucows announced it will acquire Simply Bits, a fixed wireless Internet network operator in Tucson, Arizona. The company said it plans to use the acquisition to add fixed wireless expertise to its network-buildout efforts.
"Ting's priority has and will continue to be deploying fiber Internet to-the-home," Jill Szuchmacher, the chief strategy officer and executive VP of Tucows' Ting Internet business, wrote in response to questions from Light Reading. "However, we recognize the value of fixed wireless as an additional tool in our connectivity toolkit. Specifically, with this definitive agreement, we are acquiring a skilled operating team with significant knowledge of fixed wireless that can help us better serve additional areas and strengthen our footprint in our markets."
Although Tucows did not disclose the price it paid to acquire Simply Bits, it said the fixed wireless Internet provider covers 1,100 square miles of territory and counts a total of 4,500 customers. The company's fixed wireless network uses both licensed and unlicensed spectrum as well as fiber.
Simply Bits offers unlimited data plans ranging from 10 Mbit/s to 30 Mbit/s, with monthly service prices varying by location. [Ed. note: Simply Bits sounds like an off-brand breakfast cereal from England.]
"The Simply Bits team has built a great business in the metro Tucson area, and Ting's first priority will be to continue to deliver great service to the thousands of customers who rely on Simply Bits for reliable internet access," explained Ting's Szuchmacher.
Figure 1: Tuscon, Ariz., home of recently acquired network operator Simply Bits.
(Source: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo)
Tucows, primarily a domain name registration company, launched Ting-branded mobile services via a Sprint MVNO in 2012. It then expanded into the fiber Internet game in 2014. Earlier this year though, Tucows exited the mobile industry by selling its MVNO business and 154,000 mobile customers to Dish Network, though it retained a Mobile Services Enabler (MSE) effort. Now, with its Simply Bits acquisition, Tucows' Ting is putting another layer of wireless into its connectivity division.
Ting joins a growing number of companies leveraging fixed wireless Internet technologies for locations that are tough to reach with wired connections. Other cable and telco companies using fixed wireless technologies include Google, Mediacom, Frontier Communications and Midco. Other companies, such as Verizon and T-Mobile, are looking to add a fixed wireless component to their existing cellular offerings.
A recent report from the Carmel Group indicates that the fixed wireless Internet industry in the US is growing by leaps and bounds, and operators could collect up to 10 million customers by 2023.
A shift to fixed wireless comes as little surprise. After all, the latest version of the Biden administration's massive broadband investment package specifically carves out a place for fixed wireless Internet services by recommending download speeds of 100 Mbit/s and upload speeds of 20 Mbit/s. Those metrics are supported by most leading fixed wireless Internet technologies.
Further, fixed wireless is often far less expensive to deploy than other connection technologies. For example, rural telecom provider Shentel – which operates a mix of fiber, cable and fixed wireless Internet networks – recently disclosed that it costs around $350 to reach a house with fixed wireless technologies. It would cost $2,500 to reach that same location with cable, and $1,400 to reach that location with fiber.
However, most agree that fixed wireless Internet services are nowhere near as reliable and capable as fiber.
Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading
Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.
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