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.

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

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.

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.

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