Fixed Wireless CEO Says His Technology Has a Bright Future

Matt Larsen gave an impassioned defense of fixed wireless during the WISPAMERICA 2024 conference in Oklahoma City.

Fixed Wireless CEO Says His Technology Has a Bright Future
Vistabeam CEO Matt Larsen

OKLAHOMA CITY, March, 15, 2024 – During the “Titans of Industry” panel discussion, Matt Larsen, CEO of Vistabeam, a fixed wireless company, discussed how the emerging popularity of fiber broadband affects fixed wireless broadband during the final day of WISPAMERICA here. 

Larsen took umbrage with the notion that fiber broadband will completely supplant fixed wireless. He argued that there’s still a demand for fixed wireless by consumers and that the service will be necessary to meet connectivity goals. 

“Right now, we constantly see this push that fiber’s the answer. We need fiber everywhere,” Larsen said. 

“Enough! If we look at real world, empirical data, we see that customers want fixed wireless,” Larsen continued.

Larsen told Broadband Breakfast that recent research from Leichtman Research Group showed fixed wireless grown is surpassing fiber over the past few quarters. 

“My interpretation of that data is that fixed wireless meets the needs of 99% of households and consumers are choosing it because the monthly costs are lower than fiber and cable,” Larsen said. 

“We also have data from our own network where we have overbuilt fixed wireless areas with fiber and customer usage patterns show almost no change after the conversion,” Larsen said. 

Fiber advocates oversell the value of the technology, said Larsen

“Fiber advocates are continually pushing to “educate” users about the value of a gigabit connection but are not listening to what customers really want – lower cost connectivity from companies that treat them with respect,” Larsen added. 

The CEO argued that technological advances in fixed wireless technology has presented an “tremendous amount of opportunity” to help the service tap its full potential. He lamented that so many internet service providers perceive fiber as a threat to their customer base.

Larsen favorably compared fixed wireless to cable, saying that the latter is an outdated technology that companies are starting to bail on. He said that many companies are simply building over cable with fiber due to its popularity.

“The dominant forum of broadband access over the past 20 years has basically been cable, and cable is now basically obsolete,” Larsen said. 

“And then there’s companies like us, and companies like Verizon and T-Mobile, that are going out there and selling fixed wireless and giving the public what they want— lower-cost broadband that is not set up in a monopolistic way,” Larsen said.

Larsen urged fixed wireless providers to be more persistent in their efforts to take market share. Fixed wireless can “survive and thrive” in the current market, he said.

Steve Coran, attorney of Lerman Senter and a speaker on the panel, agreed with Larsen’s sentiments.

He said he’s most surprised by the “resiliency” of the fixed wireless industry. Coran praised its “ability to adapt, ability to change, the ability to find new markets, the ability to find new niches, the ability to survive in natural disasters, the ability to restore service more quickly than other technologies.”

Fixed wireless providers have drawn attention to the supposed shortcomings of fiber. Another panel at the WISPAMERICA 2024 conference warned about the potential high costs and inflation with universal fiber deployment, citing a shortage of labor and increased material costs.

Furthermore, an October 2023 poll by Yahoo Finance found that fiber lagged behind fixed wireless in customer satisfaction. 

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