Let me tell you about the greatest WISP opportunity in a generation.
Chances are, you never heard of Microwave Bypass Systems. I founded it in my twenties and we were the first vendor in fixed wireless access, developing the tech completely from scratch. We maintained an 80% market share throughout the 1990s and in that early success is a message for the future. I'll get to that, but let me give you some more background.
We were in a unique position, because there was hardly any fiber in the ground. Our competition was copper wire and so we connected the world's first web addresses, like Symbolics (first dot-com URL), Thinking Machines, Sun Microsystems, DEC and Bolt, Beranek & Newman. Later, Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, The Smithsonian, NASA and world leading research and medical centers across the country.
How we did it, might surprise you, for how advanced it was. It matched the then full internet backbone speed of 10 Mbps (FD), using modified 23GHz licensed microwave (analog broadband video) and an 802.3 interface we named the EtherWave Transceiver.
The takeaway, particularly for WISPs, is that microwave was once the hottest solution for early internet access. Profit margins were a dream and as a Layer-2 service, our install base couldn't have been easier to maintain.
Ironically, today, enterprise users are the first to sell wireless short, because most long ago jettisoned their microwave for fiber, which admittedly was a better investment. However, the mistake was in thinking that it was the ONLY investment and that fixed wireless backhaul was obsolete. "Not enough bandwidth" is what I hear most, or worse, that it's not reliable enough.
How things have changed.
On one hand, it's awesome that fixed wireless made the migration to residential. On the other, providers are in a race to the bottom where the value proposition is all about lowest price. Fixed wireless is getting crushed by the fiber lobby and inflation will only add to the squeeze. Many WISPs aren't going to make it.
Is there a way out of the death spiral? You bet there is.
And forget competition, because there's room enough for everyone; enough to outlast most of our careers. Especially mine, right?
What I'm talking about is a new class of internet access, based on an emerging standard, *certified* for resilience to extreme weather and grid outages. It's about keeping mission critical connectivity where failure isn't an option. There, you're talking about critical business continuity, public health and safety, and all essential government operations. That, my friends, is an entirely different, altogether stronger value proposition, 100% about quality and reliability, never about lowest price.
And if you don't like the term "climate change", consider that half a trillion dollars will go to climate mitigation around the globe. Even just my state of Massachusetts has a $2 billion fund for municipal "climate readiness". It doesn't matter what you or I think about climate change. This is about the business opportunity. And mark my words, Certified Resilient Internet will become a mandate, even in my time. Because, let's face it, resilient power doesn't mean squat to a business, if it can't communicate or access its data.
Today, as Co-founder of Climate Resilient Internet, I'm chairing the industry standards committee about to drop the first draft of our resilience standard, anticipating a certification program by October 2022. There's lots more, so if you're interested, email me.
Advancing fixed wireless since the dawn of the internet.
Here's the little known fixed wireless origin story, pre-fiber, when 10 Mbps (802.3) FW ran the tables.
The tech was designed, built and installed by Microwave Bypass, a business I founded in my twenties. Here's my first thought-leadership on FWA, supported by widely favorable trade press and installs at hundreds of world leading universities, hospitals, research centers and tech firms, eager to tap the emerging internet.
While fiber eventually killed the wireless backhaul business, a massive new opportunity emerged, bringing fixed wireless to the home.
I consulted and wrote extensively in this time, garnering wide readership and high engagement. My most liked stories were about RF elements, 5G, Siklu, Mimosa and the so-called, "cowboy mentality" in the WISP industry. They're still relevant, if you'd like to check them out.
The new value proposition is about internet resilience for business and government, Certified for extreme weather to protect critical access where failure isn't an option. Think, "lifeboats for the internet."
For Certified Providers (WISPs), *this* is how you escape the race to the bottom. We're about quality and criticality, not lowest price, and Certification will help you kill it in the enterprise market.