Fixed Wireless Industry Poised For Robust Growth and Greater Policy Activism

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Google Fiber Exec Praises Sector as “the Future of Broadband Access in Large Parts of U.S.” Record-Setting Show, Hosted by WISPA, Features Expanded Program and Industry Participation

The fixed wireless industry is the future of broadband access in large parts of the United States and is poised for robust growth in new and existing markets, according to industry experts who spoke this week at WISPAPALOOZA, the premier fixed-wireless broadband conference in the country.

In a keynote address, Milo Medin, vice president of access services at Google Fiber, said fixed wireless is of growing importance in the broadband access industry and is characterized by significant innovation.

“This is a space where innovative entrepreneurs are driving progress, and one of the only sectors in the telecommunications industry where we are seeing an explosion of new entrants,” Medin told the conference attendees. Alphabet’s Access division itself is a new entrant and is committed to the expansion of point-to-point fixed wireless, for example having recently completed the acquisition of Webpass, Inc.

The industry’s rosy outlook was also confirmed by a new report from industry analyst James Schaeffler of the Carmel Group, who predicts the number of fixed wireless subscribers will nearly double from approximately 4 million today to 8 million in 2021. Growth drivers include low barriers to entry; ever-improving equipment; new spectrum resources; and increasing awareness from the financial community. Fixed wireless is also beginning to compete effectively in suburban and urban markets for residential, business, governmental and institutional customers, he said.

The fixed wireless industry today is comprised of more than 2,000 mostly small- and medium-sized businesses, serving more than 4 million customers across the United States in mostly rural and under-served areas. Most of the wireless internet service providers, or WISPs, are led by entrepreneurs who grew up and live in the communities they serve.

Stepped-Up Policy Advocacy

Alex Phillips, president of WISPA and CEO of Rural Broadband Network Services in Harrisonburg, Virginia, told attendees “the state of our organization is strong and getting stronger.” Phillips pointed to the group’s public policy successes in 2016, from influencing rules that guide the federal Connect America Fund to winning a unanimous vote in the U.S. House of Representatives for The Small Business Broadband Deployment Act (HR 4596).

A Record-Setting Show

Now in its sixth year, WISPAPALOOZA (Oct. 11-13, 2016) is the annual trade show hosted by the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), a membership-driven organization dedicated to the advancement of the fixed wireless Internet service provider industry. This year’s event was the largest ever, with more than 1,500 attendees from 46 states, the District of Columbia, and 26 countries, plus more than 100 exhibitors selling wireless gear, tower technology, software, cloud services, VoIP solutions, consulting, mapping services and more.

This year’s program featured expanded tracks on topics such as accounting, human resources, marketing, Vendor Spotlights, new product and service offerings, and more, aiming to address everything that WISP operators need to know to run their businesses well.

During Fiber Weekend, Oct. 8-9, educational sessions were provided by fiber equipment manufacturers and consultants to a record-setting 275 operators who are now or soon deploying fiber to the home (FTTH) in addition to wireless services. Other certification training sessions were offered before and after the show.

Industry awards were presented to Ubiquiti Networks for Manufacturer of the Year; Amarillo Wireless for Operator of the Year; Mimosa B11 for Product of the Year; Baltic Networks for Distributor of the Year; and Tower Coverage for Service of the Year. Clay Stewart of AcelaNet/SCS Broadband was honored with the Triumph Award for overcoming adversity; Richard Bernhardt of Bernhardt Communications with Volunteer of the Year; and Nathan Stooke of WISPER ISP, chairman of the WISPAPALOOZA Agenda Committee, with the Visionary Award.

This year’s Diamond Sponsors were Cambium Networks; ConVergence; PowerCode; Telrad; and Ubiquiti Networks. The Platinum Sponsors are American Tower; Baltic Networks USA; Radwin; Streakwave; and Visp.Net. The Gold Sponsors are DoubleRadius; NetSapiens; Ritalia Funding; SAF; and Winncom. The Silver Sponsors are Lerman Senter; Tycon Systems; ViaSat; and ZTE.

About WISPA
WISPA is a membership-driven trade association that promotes the development, advancement and unity of the fixed wireless internet service provider industry. For more information, visit http://www.wispa.org.

Media Inquiries:
Dale Curtis, dale(at)dalecurtiscommunications.com, 202-246-5659 (mobile)
Breyana Franklin, breyana(at)dalecurtiscommunications.com, 301-346-0056 (mobile)
 
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