Connect with us

WISP

In First In-Person Event Since Pandemic, WISPA Conference Discusses Infrastructure, Mapping

WISPA holds first trade show in two years, which touched upon broadband infrastructure, mapping, spectrum and other topics.

Published

on

Broadband Breakfast photos from WISPAmerica

GRAPEVINE, Texas, April 27, 2021 – For the first time since 2019, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association held an in-person live trade show, which touched on President Joe Biden’s broadband plan, spectrum policy and mapping.

“I can’t tell you all how happy I am to see you here today,” said WISPA CEO Claude Aiken during the WISPAmerica 2021 kickoff event on Tuesday.  “It’s been a tough year, and I’m so proud and thankful to be part of an industry that has helped America stay on its feet during these incredibly trying times. It’s just great to be back!”

Aiken spoke on the benefits the broadband industry has seen recently. It’s been a great couple of years, both for legislation and regulation, he said. We’ve seen billions of dollars in federal funding and benefits in expanded spectrum and Over-the-Air Reception Device rules, he said.

He also praised the ‘use-it-or-share-it’ concept that has allowed more access to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum band. We continue to advocate for this concept on Capitol Hill and at the Federal Communications Commission, he said.

WISPA CEO Claude Aiken, right

Aiken criticized the idea that “future proofing” networks should focus only on fiber infrastructure, referencing the Biden administration’s new $100 billion broadband proposal that hints at emphasizing fiber over other technology. Fixed wireless can also be future proof, we know we can hit gigabit speeds with wireless, he said. Fiber is very important, but we should use the right technology for the job, and just “picking one technology over another is subpar, policy-wise,” he said.

FCC’s new Broadband Data Collection

In a separate panel during Tuesday’s event US Telecom’s Lynn Follansbee and James Stegeman from CostQuest laid out the details for the FCC’s new Broadband Data Collection (formerly called the Digital Opportunity Data Collection) that will replace the current Form 477 that all providers are required to submit.

The new BDC will create a new ‘fabric’ data set that is intended to greatly enhance the FCC’s broadband mapping system. The agency considers any speed below 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload as unserved, and the Form 477 data shows where those unserved areas are.

The problem, however, is that the data only gets down to the census block level, potentially leaving millions of Americans without any service, especially in rural areas where census blocks can span dozens of miles. The BDC improves on this by using more granular data with geographic coordinates, addresses or polygon shapefiles.

The BDC also includes many updated requirements for fixed wireless providers, including greater details on tower locations, strength of signal and latency, and requiring certification by an engineer, among other stipulations. It also provides a new process available for consumers to challenge the accuracy of the broadband maps submitted by their service providers.

The change in submission rules for wireless providers raised some concerns during the WISPA panel, with one audience member complaining that the government was asking too much of small providers, especially the need for certification by an engineer, calling the new requirements “stupid” and unnecessary.

The WISPAmerica conference continues on Wednesday and Thursday.

Reporter Tim White studied communication and political science at the University of Utah, and previously worked on Capitol Hill for a member of Congress. A native of Salt Lake City, he escapes to the Pacific Northwest as often as he can. He is passionate about politics, Star Wars, and breakfast cereal.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

WISP

WISPA Announces David Zumwalt as New CEO

Zumwalt’s tenure will begin on June 1.

Published

on

Photo of David Zumwalt used with permission

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2022 – In a press release Wednesday, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association announced that David Zumwalt will be the association’s president and CEO as of June 1, following selection by a search committee.

Zumwalt will be replacing Claude Aiken, who in February announced that he was stepping down from his position in April, moving to provider Nextlink Internet to serve as its chief strategy officer and chief legal officer.

Zumwalt has served as the CEO of Broadband VI, a major internet service provider in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He was formerly the founder, chairman and CEO of CNet, Inc., a provider of radio-frequency engineering and operational support system software and services.

Zumwalt was recruited to Broadband VI to prepare the company for scale, and during his tenure helped guide the organization to a historic $84.5 million from the Federal Communications Commission Connect USVI fund as well as provided operations leadership last year through the organization’s acquisition by a unit of provider Liberty Latin America.

He also has experience leading policy, workforce investment, infrastructure and market outreach initiatives as the CEO and executive director of the University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park Corporation.

“David is simply the best person to guide our members to the tremendous opportunities at stake,” said Todd Harpest, WISPA’s chairman of the board.

Zumwalt praised the work WISPA has done upon his selection.

“WISPA’s active advocacy efforts extend the reach of members at the Federal level and within state and regional jurisdictions,” said Zumwalt.

“I am delighted to be joining WISPA and look forward to leading it as our membership, staff, and Board work to advance our Association’s mission.”

Continue Reading

WISP

WISP Executives Debate Whether Government Unfairly Favors Fiber Builds Over Wireless

Critic cites RDOF program as an example of bias toward fiber.

Published

on

Drew Clark, Jason Guzzo, Matt Larsen, Donny Smith and Rory Conaway

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2022 – At a Broadband Breakfast Live Online event last month, the federal government faced criticism for allegedly favoring fiber builds over wireless projects in broadband expansion efforts.

The assertion was a topic of debate among panelists at the event, with Donny Smith, CEO of midwestern wireless internet service provider Fibersmith, disagreeing with the initial claim from Rory Conaway, CEO of Phoenix-based WISP Triad Wireless.

At Broadband Breakfast’s event held at the WISPAMERICA trade show, Conaway cited the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund as an example in which the government has favored fiber builds, saying the agency went forward with the builds even though wireless deployment would be more economical, and fiber would take years to deploy.

Smith on the other hand stated that government projects are generally “skewed against fiber.”

Broadband Breakfast’s event focused on the question of whether WISPs should overbuild their networks – where infrastructure is deployed where there is existing facilities.

Throughout the discussion, WISP executives hailed overbuilding as necessary to meet increasing connectivity demands of consumers.

They also highlighted some of the key challenges facing connectivity via fiber, such as building around vegetation, and the comparative utility of fixed wireless to overcome such issues.

Matt Larsen, CEO of Nebraska-based WISP Vistabeam, pointed out that even all of Google’s funding could not be harnessed to overcome right-of-way issues in some areas, and as a result the company shifted its focus to fixed wireless in urban areas.

The discussion ended with a warning from Jason Guzzo, general manager of New York state WISP Hudson Valley Wireless, cautioning that poor decision making from the government with regard to its funding allocation will only further the digital divide for those left unconnected once projects are completed.

Drew Clark, Jason Guzzo, Matt Larsen, Donny Smith and Rory Conaway

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event and REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022, 12 Noon ET — Should Wireless Internet Service Providers Overbuild Themselves?

Live from WISPAmerica, Broadband Breakfast brings its Live Online program every Wednesday at 12 Noon ET on the road to New Orleans! In this special edition, Drew Clark of Broadband Breakfast will be interviewing WISPs about their take on the topic. What are the pros and the cons of seeking funding to build a fiber network on top of a wireless network? Should WISPs become fully invested in federal- and state-funded broadband expansion efforts? Learn more about the topic that has WISPs talking.

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • Jason Guzzo, General Manager, Hudson Valley Wireless
  • Matt Larsen, CEO, Vistabeam
  • Donny Smith, CEO of FiberSmith
  • Rory Conaway, CEO, Triad Wireless
  • Drew Clark (presenter and host), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Jason Guzzo is General Manager of Hudson Valley Wireless (https://www.hvwisp.com/). Hudson Valley Wireless currently operates New York’s largest Private LTE network covering over 3,500 sq miles passing over 120,000 homes, 8,500 businesses, and 450 anchor institutions. Jason currently serves on the Board of Directors at WISPA and focuses on various topics, including Broadband Access, Digital Equity, and Mission Critical Infrastructure.

Matt Larsen is the CEO of Vistabeam (http://www.vistabeam.com).   Vistabeam operates a fixed wireless and fiber broadband network covering 40,000 sq miles in Western Nebraska, Eastern Wyoming and Northern Colorado.   Matt is a founding member and past President of WISPA, serves on BITAG (http://www.bitag.org) and publishes the Wireless Cowboys blog (http://www.wirelesscowboys.com)

Donny Smith is the founder of The Fibersmith Company, a design and engineering company specializing in Fiber to the Premise (FTTP). He is a 20 year veteran in the FTTH arena working in design and construction of APON, BPON, GPON and lately various 10GPON networks.  He and his firm specialize in rural fiber network design and implementation.

Rory Conaway is CEO of Triad Wireless, a WISP operation in Arizona with infrastructure from the Grand Canyon to Arizona border. An engineer, he has been in the IT and Wireless Industries for the past 25 years as an author and consultant. He is also an industry consultant for  investors, manufacturers, and WISPs. In addition to writing articles in industry publications such as Mission Critical Magazine, he writes the series “Tales from the Towers” that can be found on www.muniwireless.com.

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he served as head of a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

Continue Reading

WISP

Wireless Internet Service Providers Association CEO Claude Aiken to Step Down in April 2022

Aiken helped elevate the profile of the wireless association in Washington.

Published

on

Photo of WISPA CEO Claude Aiken speaking at WISPAPALOOZA 2019 by Drew Clark

WASHINGTON, February 9, 2022 – The Wireless Internet Service Providers Associations on Wednesday announced the departure of CEO Claude Aiken. Aiken’s official last day at the association will be April 30, 2022.

Aiken, a former official in the office of Federal Communications Commissioner (and former acting chairwoman) Mignon Clyburn, worked to elevate the profile of the association in Washington. Prior to Aiken’s tenure, the association was led by volunteer executives or board members.

In his role as CEO since March 2018, Aiken helped bring WISPA into more of the broadband and telecommunications policy debates here.

Aiken was a frequent guest on Broadband Breakfast programs, including Broadband Breakfast Live Online in January 2022.

Infrastructure Money Must Go to Better Networks — Even If in Areas with Existing Infrastructure

“We are grateful for the four years in which he helped us grow and we wish Claude much success in the future,” said Todd Harpest, WISPA Chairman. “Claude has been a positive impact on WISPA and the thousands of innovators and entrepreneurs who are laser-focused on providing better connectivity across the world.  Although Claude has elected to not renew his contract with WISPA, he will remain at WISPA until the end of April 2022 and has made himself available even after that. For that, we are thankful. Thank you, Claude.”

Todd further added: “We hope to see many of you at WISPAmerica 2022 (March 14-17) in New Orleans. This will be a great time to thank Claude for his service.  Also, you will not want to miss the Broadband Billions Bootcamp on Monday (March 14), and learn about the newest industry advancements throughout the week.”

Claude indicated that he has been grateful for the opportunity and thanked WISPA and its members for placing trust in the association and in his leadership.

“The future, of WISPA and its members, is bright. It continually amazes me how much our members can accomplish, and this role has been one of the greatest joys of my professional career. Incredible volunteer leaders and dedicated staff have come together to accomplish things that I couldn’t have imagined possible when I first started in 2018,” said Aiken.

WISPA members continue to bring ingenuity and innovation to the communications industry. Said both Aiken and Harpest: “We are seeing members deploy fiber optic and hybrid fixed-wireless networks driving faster speeds and better service to homes and businesses. WISPA is a home for all technologies, enabling broadband operators to connect and bridge the digital divide in urban, rural, and remote communities.”

WISPA has organized a search committee for a CEO, with an outreach email for interested parties to SelectionCommittee@wispa.org.

WISPA is composed of about 1,000 members. These wireless internet service providers are part of what the association described as an evolving industry that supports fixed broadband connectivity, including equipment suppliers, support services, and other components.

Aiken is also scheduled as a forthcoming guest on Broadband.Money’s “Ask Me Anything!” series on March 11, 2022. The event will take place immediately prior to the WISPAmerica show, Aiken’s last as CEO.

Continue Reading

Recent

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Trending