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WISPAPALOOZA Show Reopens in Las Vegas With Celebrations of Can-Do Broadband Connectivity

Many WISPs are no longer merely “wireless” internet service providers, but offer fiber-optics in a hybrid solution.



Photo of a packed event center for breakfast at Bally's in Las Vegas as WISPAPALOOZA opened by Drew Clark

LAS VEGAS, October 12, 2021 –  The Wireless Industry Service Provider Association on Tuesday reopened its flagship trade show, WISPAPALOOZA, through Thursday at the Paris Hotel and Bally’s.

Not held since 2019 due to the pandemic, WISPAPALOOZA brings the community-based internet innovators ecosystem together at a single spot for education, trade show exhibits and ISP community engagement.

“This WISPAPALOOZA is a celebration on a number of levels,” said Claude Aiken, CEO of WISPA.  “Our community hasn’t gotten together at this scale for two years, and we’re just excited as heck to get back and see old friends.”

At Broadband Breakfast Live Online on October 6, 2021, Broadband Breakfast previewed the Wispapalooza trade show.

He also touted the WISP community for its service during pandemic. ”They kept people connected, safe and working.  And they did it because it was the right thing to do.”

Other analysts and attendees agreed. “Fixed wireless offers a much-needed substitute for addressing broadband need in underserved rural and suburban markets where other solutions are too cost-prohibitive or take too long to deploy,” said Mobile Experts principal analysis Kyung Mun. The consultancy predicts that globally, there are 80 million subscribers to fixed wireless (20% year-over-year growth) will take off to 200 million by 2026, or a compound annual growth rate of 70%.

WISPAPALOOZA is set to feature:

  • More than 90 panels filled with more than 200 internet access innovators, featuring updates on the state of technology, operational tips and practices, human resources, and the regulatory landscape, among others.
  • More than 160 exhibitors, demoing their best hardware, software, services and know-how.
  • A full 2,000 WISP industry attendees, enabling tons of networking opportunities.

WISPs are among the hardiest and those with the most can-do spirit in the communications industry. The group was loath to cancel their smaller trade show, WISPAmerica, in March 2020, and already held WISPAmerica earlier this year, in Grapevine, Texas.

In other words: Even the lingering spike of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which caused the National Association of Broadcasters and other groups to cancel their in-person shows, couldn’t keep WISP operators from gathering at this time.

Indeed, community-based access innovators have been integral to lifting the economy and helping Americans connect during the pandemic, delivering internet access to those in the farthest and toughest reaches of America.

Other wireless industry trends include hybrid networks, government funds

WISPAPALOOZA is also a celebration of the continual evolution of ISP technology and business models, too.

Over the course of two years, the landscape has changed significantly.  Many WISPs now have licensed spectrum, via the Citizens Broadband Radio Service auction completed last year.

Perhaps most significantly, many WISPs are no longer just “WISPs,” meaning that they are actively making use of fiber-optic technologies in their deployments.

While fixed wireless access has been the industry’s predominate delivery technology, today the majority of WISPs now employ other transmission modes, such as fiber to the home and business.  As an example, he cited the work on Nextlink: “They have proven the case that fixed-wireless and hybrid networks deliver” when fiber and wireless are harnessed together.

An additional significant change among the rank-and-file WISPA members: More and more WISPs are competing for and using public funding to grow their networks, while also reducing the digital divide.

“Our community-based providers use an all-the-above toolbox so all Americans get competitive, innovative and affordable internet access in their communities,” said Aiken.  He said that the exhibition floor will showcase WISPs ““resilience and continued evolution of an industry that’s future-proofing solutions for their customers and marketplace.”

WISPA is composed of about 1,000 members and provide broadband access to more than 4 million residential and business customers in the United States, often in exclusively rural areas.

Nextlink Internet voted “Operator of the Year” by colleagues, others recognized

Meanwhile, the Hudson Oaks, Texas, based Nextlink Internet, an internet service provider focused on rural communities across the central United States, announced that it has been named “Operator of the Year” by its colleagues in the ISP industry.

The company was recognized today at WISPAPALOOZA.

“Our team has been putting forth tremendous effort in expanding our service areas in 12 states across the country,” said Nextlink CEO Bill Baker. “We are also proud to be leading the way for our industry in terms of successful engagement in the Federal Communications Commission’s programs and in many public-private partnerships.”

WISPA also announced additional awards:

“Manufacturer of the Year” – Cambium Networks: “We are honored to be recognized as Manufacturer of the Year by WISPA network operators,” said Atul Bhatnagar, CEO. “Cambium Networks collaborates with WISPs to deliver customer-focused innovations in hardware, software and services to provide excellent quality of experience.”

“Product of the Year” – RF Elements: “Our third consecutive year winning the WISPA Product of the Year Award sends a very clear message about how game-changing our RF elements products really are,” said Juraj Taptic, Co-Founder and CEO.

“Service of the Year” – Aterlo Preseem: “We are humbled and honored to have been selected to receive this award for the third year running,” said Gerrit Nagelhout, CEO. “We are proud to serve the thriving WISP community by developing products that make their lives easier and help them grow.”

“Distributor of the Year” – ISP Supplies: “We celebrate the hard work of our employees and the close partnerships we enjoy with our customers,” said Steve Discher, Founder and CEO.

“Triumph Award” – All WISPs: “Never has robust and reliable connectivity been more essential than now,” noted Aiken of WISPA. “The industry’s selfless work during the pandemic with the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected pledge, the Emergency Broadband Benefit, and ensuring their networks were always up and running no matter the strain, for all.  Congrats, All WISPs, for your tremendous public service, unflagging spirit, and get it done attitude!”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 4:46 p.m. ET to reflect additional awards, besides those of Nextlink Internet.

Breakfast Media LLC CEO Drew Clark has led the Broadband Breakfast community since 2008. An early proponent of better broadband, better lives, he initially founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for broadband data. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over the leading media company advocating for higher-capacity internet everywhere through topical, timely and intelligent coverage. Clark also served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative.


Fixed Wireless Technologies Provide Some Benefits to Homeowners, Say Providers

Fixed wireless should not be overlooked, according to an industry panel of providers at Broadband Communities Summit.



Photo of Pierre Trudeau of Positron Access Solutions

HOUSTON, May 8, 2023 – Fixed wireless provides some advantages over fiber to the premises for multi-dwelling unit owners and home owners, said panel including wireless providers at a Broadband Communities Summit event on Thursday.

Property owners do not want to deal with the construction costs and inconveniences of bringing fiber to the premises, said Christopher Curtin, vice president of MDU expansion at internet service provider Ubiquity. Often, bringing fiber to the home requires drilling holes and disrupting living spaces in order to lay the wires.

Instead, companies should leverage the existing infrastructure to build fixed wireless connections where possible, he said. Doing so reduces the likelihood of overbuilding as fixed wireless can rely on the infrastructure already existing in the community, continued Curtin.

Certainly there is merit to building new wires in some cases, said Pat Garry of Astound Broadband, but carriers can optimize time and resources by taking advantage of what structures are already in place.

Fiber is not required for consumers to receive the same high-quality experience as other internet users, added Pierre Trudeau of the telecommunication solutions product developer Positron Access Solutions.

This is particularly true for people that qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program which supplements broadband access for qualifying low-income households, said Nick Laird of Verizon, the director of sales and marketing for the internet service provider.

Fixed wireless does not require that installers drill holes or enter property, which can lower the barriers to adoption for low-income families. “With a lot of ACP properties, [fixed wireless] is a support pillar,” said Laird.

Our goal as fixed wireless providers is to go into the community and help residents understand what connectivity solutions make sense for them, agreed panelists. Fixed wireless is often the solution for these communities, said Laird.

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Starry Group Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Starry said the bankruptcy will put it in a better position to continue offering service.



Photo of Starry CEO Chet Kanojia

WASHINGTON, February 21, 2023 – Fixed wireless internet service provider Starry Group Holdings Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to a Monday filing in the bankruptcy court of Delaware.

The petition shows the company has roughly $310 million in total debt, but assets that amount to just $270 million. It also listed having between 5,000 and 10,000 lenders.

The group will now enter into a restructuring to pay back the debt.

“Over the last several months, we’ve taken steps to conserve capital and reduce costs in order to put Starry in the best position to explore various financing paths for the company,” Chet Kanojia, Starry’s CEO, said in a press release Tuesday. “Our next step in this journey is to continue to strengthen our balance sheet through a Chapter 11 restructuring process.

“With the support of our lenders, we feel confident in our ability to successfully exit this process as a stronger company, well-positioned to continue delivering an affordable, high-quality broadband experience to our customers,” Kanojia added.

“The Restructuring Support Agreement provides us with the funding needed to continue operating as normal, through this restructuring process and as we guide the company to profitability,” he continued. “We have a strong and experienced team in place and look forward to moving through this process quickly so that we can continue expanding essential broadband access and #HappyInterneting to more communities across the country.”

Last year the company said it would be defaulting on all its winning bids from $9.2 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund of the Federal Communications Commission, of which $268 million went to the fixed wireless company for connectivity in at least nine states.

Kanojia said last year that the company’s business model puts it in a position to compete against larger players.

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Wireless Internet Service Providers to Connect More Fiber Points as Bandwidth Consumption Increases

‘The only way to get that density is to get fiber out there. That allows you to get more subs with your wireless.’



Photo of Jay Anderson, chief technology officer of FiberLight

LAS VEGAS, October 6, 2022 – By employing more fiber points, wireless internet service providers can improve network performance and innovation, industry players at the WISPAPALOOZA conference told Broadband Breakfast.

Jay Anderson, chief technology officer of FiberLight, which has built fiber networks in several states, including Texas, Florida, and Virginia, told this publication as wireless internet service providers get more subscribers online, the existing connections to the fiber backbone can get congested without more densification of fiber points.

“The only way to get that density is to get fiber out there, and that allows you to get more subs with your wireless,” Anderson said.

Anderson said he expects WISPs to adopt a “hybrid architecture” moving forward. FiberLight’s Texan WISP partners have grown “leaps and bounds,” he said. “They’re using our infrastructure…to get that capacity out there…our job is to get as much of it out there, [at as high a] bandwidth as possible,” he added.

Mike Rowell, senior vice president of operations for Hilliary Communications, related some of his own professional experience with fiber to Broadband Breakfast. Hilliary provides internet, telephone, and television service across Texas and Oklahoma.

“We can see fiber helping us out tremendously in some areas getting us to a wireless access point,” Rowell said, explaining that a single fiber deployment can replace a less-reliable, multi-device connection to a hard-to-serve area. He said this strategy enabled his company to offer higher internet speeds and reach new customers. 

Rowell has worked in telecommunications for four decades. He said he has seen once-prohibitive costs for fiber-installation machinery plummet, which makes fiber a far more viable option than it previously was.

“Fiber – from just…two years ago – was totally different than today,” he said. “You can [now] have fiber splicers that can do a really, really nice job for under $3,000.”

Rowell also emphasized the importance of foresight and innovative business planning. “We never thought we’d be selling one-gig, and here we are selling it,” he said. “It’s going to be the same thing: We don’t think we’re going to be selling 10-gig, but we’re going to.”

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