"Think & Grow Rich," the WISP Edition
The WISP Guide to Business Customers
Millions more Americans are getting internet because of fixed wireless. It's a simple fact and we talk about WISPs as heroes for bringing internet to communities that were left behind.
Yet, "no good deed goes unpunished" and so residential subscribers are the hardest to connect, they bring the least money and need the most hand holding. Government funding is geared to fiber. WISPs have little buying power and inflation adds to the squeeze.
The Problem is THIS
1. Our value proposition sucks. If you have to be the lowest priced provider to win, you're not actually winning.
2. We're thinking too small.
Did You Know?
FW backhaul was a huge hit with universities, hospitals and tech firms in the late 1980's & '90's.
Network World about Microwave Bypass
LAN Times, Charting the 90's Top Contenders, featuring Microwave Bypass Systems, Inc.
Lowest Priced Provider is Your Worst "Value Proposition"
If you're selling on bandwidth and price—like most everyone else—then call me when you hit bottom. Someone will always have a tighter business model and be able to deliver for less money.
Still, there are always things we can bargain shop for, but you wouldn't look for the lowest priced doctor if your kid was sick. For us as internet providers, the message is clear. Our focus shouldn't be so much on generic bandwidth, like streaming and gaming services, but on criticality. Criticality for business, public safety and essential services.
Who can dispute the value of critical connectivity for a hospital, or to keep businesses from tanking, or to land planes, give us clean drinking water or support the ever expanding universe of essential applications that need remote data access?
As WISPs, we need to better align ourselves to the market opportunity. That's not to say that we shouldn't go after residential subscribers, but if you don't balance residential and business, you're never gonna make it. Yup, even with all that government money.
Selling to Business Customers
How would you like to sell *critical* internet access to business accounts? The benefits look like a Wish List. High volume (sold by the gigabit), low maintenance (layer 2), high customer retention, and profitability like you'll never see with residential subscribers.
Right now, many of you are throwing your hands up, thinking, businesses don't want fixed wireless. I tried! But hear me out. Businesses will buy, when we all get behind the fact that independently powered fixed wireless is the only path to the internet (and cloud) when fiber and power are down.
I don't care how redundant or diverse someone's fiber is. And while we're at it, 100% SLAs are meaningless. Believe me, many have tried, but no one can win an argument against this FACT: "Fiber is a single point of failure."
And let me tell you, I don't hate fiber. Without fiber, we'd have no internet, but fiber can't do everything. Sure, fiber can feed squirrels, but can it bring back images from the Webb Telescope?
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I call these the "Three Pillars of Internet Resilience."
Fiber is a single point of failure (deja vu)
1. In extreme weather
2. In power outages
3. In terror attacks
Let's Talk Pricing
What's it worth to keep a business afloat for days or weeks? When I talk to folks about this, the knee jerk reflex is to say that wireless pricing should be relative to the cost of fiber. I don't understand the logic of pricing two things relative to each other when only one will remain standing when you need it most. Resilience costs money, which is why an armored limo costs more than a regular one.
Be a Big Fish, Eating What & Where You Want
To recap, you want to:
1. Deliver *critical* internet access for businesses that can't go down when the grid fails and fiber's down. Have you followed the news on extreme weather and grid attacks? That shit's happening everywhere and those outages can last days and weeks.
2. Sell to businesses. (And handily win gov't bids.)
The last part is this:
For you to get off the gerbil wheel of selling highest speed/lowest price, you want to sell a branded, Certified service that savvy customers look for and which retains its value.
3. Another reason for Certification is that all it takes is one bad provider to wreck the opportunity for all of us, not to mention damage to the customer. I'm tired of hearing bad install stories. That's not happening here.
If we're meeting critical applications, then we all need to get on the same page, quality-wise. That means conforming to a Standard for resilience to the threats I referenced above: 1) Extreme weather, 2) Power outages, and; 3) Attacks on the grid.
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And finally, Certification is designed to boost buyer confidence. Instead of us answering mind-numbing skepticism or having to address wireless rumors and misconceptions, we should simply ask:
1) Do you want to be resilient or not, and;
2) How much bandwidth do you need.
This is the opportunity we've been developing at Climate Resilient Internet. Three decades and five years in the making. And if you're thinking politics, for the love of God, DON'T. This is about opportunity and if we get behind it, it could expand our industry's playing field, exponentially.
Follow the Money
Think the Feds are handing out a lot of money for rural broadband? It's NOTHING compared to what they plan to spend on climate resilience. (And don't freak that I said "climate." Follow the money and you'll see. That word is a Golden Ticket.)
Even just my state of Massachusetts has a $2 billion fund for municipalities to become "climate ready". Business will invest even more. But don't take it from me. Blackrock's Republican CEO predicts that business disruption from "climate change" will be the greatest economic threat since the Great Depression.
Whatever we call it, weather is out of control and the sensible thing is to become more resilient to it. Resilience implies that the solution is baked in, not thrown up in emergencies or some crappy "backup" that doesn't work when it's supposed to. And 1990's disaster recovery solutions, like COWs (cell on wheels) and COLTs (cell on light trucks), are too little, too late, in the Digital Age.
In short, we're repurposing fixed wireless as lifeboats for the internet. And, letting the Powers That Be know—not just IT folks—that businesses and essential services don't have to be down for days and weeks following extreme weather or a grid attack. No one can afford to be down like that.
In the future, we'll see lawsuits for consequences of internet failures. Failures that in particular, might have been avoided. That's why my favorite tagline is: "If you're responsible for critical operations, don't let the internet go down on YOUR watch."
If you like what I'm saying, hit me up and let me tell you about our Certification Program. It'll bring you leads, help you close sales, minimize support hassles, increase customer retention, maximize your profits and make it rain opportunities for everyone in our industry.
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"Businesses don't trust fixed wireless."
I hear it all the time, but once upon a time, they loved it. Fixed wireless brought the earliest internet access to world leading universities, hospitals, research centers and tech companies from the late 1980's through the 1990's. And far from sucking—as early tech often does—it met the 802.3 spec and transmitted at the then full internet backbone speed of 10Mbps (FD).
Here's some early trade press, which might surprise you if you thought fixed wireless access started with 802.11 (1997).