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Let me tell you about the greatest fixed wireless  opportunity in a generation. 

January 2023


Chances are, you never heard of Microwave Bypass. I founded it in my twenties and we were the first vendor in fixed wireless access, developing the tech entirely from scratch. And we killed it, peaking at an 80% market share in the late 1990s, and in that early success is a lesson for aspiring WISPs. But, first let me give you a bit more background.


We were in a unique position, because there was hardly any fiber in the ground. And so we connected hundreds of world leading institutions and tech companies eager to tap the emerging internet, including the very first web URLs, like Symbolics (first dot-com registration on the internet).

It might surprise you to hear, but ten years before 802.11 emerged at 2 Mbps, we were pushing 10 Mbps (FD), matching the full internet backbone speed at the time. We did it by modifying a licensed 23GHz radio (from analog video) and mating it with an 802.3 interface (EtherWave Transceiver) that went to a bridge or router. 

The takeaway for WISPs, is that FWA started with enterprise users and was widely respected there. Not to mention, profit margins were a dream and as a Layer-2 service, support couldn't have been easier.

Today's enterprise IT managers have no respect for fixed wireless. 


Considering the history I just laid out, it's ironic that today's enterprise users are such snobs against fixed wireless. Most gave up on microwave backhaul decades ago. And rightly so, because fiber far exceeds wireless bandwidth, yet I was a lone voice advocating for a hybrid environment, keeping microwave in place as backup.


100% fiber SLAs killed that idea and I have to admit that redundant and diverse fiber largely held in the decades where weather was fairly "normal" and we weren't so dependent on the cloud. Today, it's a different story.


The power grid is aging and overtaxed, and so it's a single point of failure for fiber. It doesn't matter how much of it you put in the ground. And then of course fiber infrastructure also takes a beating in natural disasters, often taking days and weeks to restore. Can any business run without internet and cloud access all that time? 

The "race to the bottom" for WISPs


It's awesome that fixed wireless made the migration to residential. Millions more are being served that way. On the other hand, residential accounts generate the least revenue and are the hardest to service.


WISPs are in a race to the bottom where it's all about lowest price. Fixed wireless is getting crushed by the fiber lobby and inflation will only add to the squeeze. Consolidation is coming and many WISPs will perish. 


Is there a way out of the death spiral? Absolutely!


Here's what I think we need. And forget competition, because it'll expand our market size, exponentially. 

What I'm talking about is a new class of internet service, based on an emerging standard, *certified* for resilience to extreme weather and grid outages. There, it's all about business continuity, public health, safety, and essential government services. That, my friends, is the greatest value proposition for WISPs, 100% about criticality and quality, never about lowest price. 


And if you don't like the term "climate change", consider that climate resilience funding will dwarf government spending to close the digital divide. It's estimated that half a trillion dollars will be spent worldwide. Even just my state of Massachusetts has a $2 billion fund for municipal "climate readiness".


It doesn't matter what we think about climate change. This is about the business opportunity. And mark my words, *Certified Resilient Internet* will become a mandate around critical industries and infrastructure, just like backup power. 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 spearheading the first draft of our resilience standard, anticipating a certification program by December 2022.


Thanks for reading! For the colorful story behind Microwave Bypass, read my piece: "The Little Engine that Did." For comments and more information, email me

Comment or email me.

If you haven't geeked out enough: 


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. 

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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. 

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