Frustration with Traditional Telephony Fuels WISP Growth

As more consumers turn their backs on traditional landline telephone service, analysts see Internet telephony going mainstream in the next two years. Projections indicate there will be 32 million Internet phone lines while traditional residential landlines will fall from about 114 million last year to about 88 million by 2009, according to Gartner Research.

Ohio-based Slane Telcom is capitalizing on this trend by acquiring Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) and deploying Motorola's Canopy wireless broadband technology to deliver high-speed Internet and Internet telephony services across the U.S. Slane's 2006 acquisition of a partial ownership stake in Plannet Group of Columbus, Ohio positioned the companies to offer Ohio's first completely wireless transport system offering Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Services. The company intends to replicate this model in all planned acquisitions.

According to John O'Connor, Slane Telcom partner and CEO of Celerity Networks, the flagship WISP of Slane's holdings, Motorola's award winning technology offers speed and reliability levels that are difficult to duplicate in traditional cable and phone delivery systems. "The big benefit is our ability to serve rural markets and underserved pockets in the urban landscape that until now have had no viable option for high-speed Internet and Digital Voice services."

As a former Motorola executive, O'Connor knows full well what the technology's capabilities are. It uses a radio frequency to transmit the signal in either a point-to-point or multi-point platform. This delivery system offers superior quality without the pitfalls of cable and phone lines which can be disrupted due to cable cuts, power outages or extreme weather. Additionally, the Canopy system is garnering praise from industry watchers such as Broadband Wireless Exchange Magazine that also named Motorola Canopy as a Top 10 Wireless ISP Equipment Vendor in the broadband wireless industry.

"The growing discontent among consumers regarding quality issues and being held captive for so long in unfair or hidden pricing structures instituted by behemoth technology providers has opened the market for companies like ours," said O'Connor. We not only can be more responsive in a customer care arena but the services and technology is often better than anything available today. Not to mention a stronger value."

Consumers seem to echo O'Connor's view given that Internet telephoning, also known as VoIP is hitting pay dirt with first-time subscribers. Internet phone subscribers more than tripled from 1.3 million customers in the U. S. at the start of 2005 to 4.5 million at the end of 2006, according to the research firm TeleGeography.

The Internet phone company Vonage is credited with bringing VoIP into mainstream consciousness with its national TV and Internet advertising efforts. The New Jersey-based company spent more than any other company by investing $220 million on Web ads in 2006.

While smaller wireless Internet service providers like Celerity Networks in Columbus, Ohio benefit from the increased VoIP awareness generated by companies like Vonage, Celerity founder and COO Brad McMillen is quick to caution that not all providers are created equally.

The challenge large national VoIP providers face comes into play with their use of multiple networks to deliver Internet-based calling. This causes inconsistent quality and reliability issues since they do not have control over those networks. "We maintain our own carrier grade switch and have sole control over the network, which delivers unparalleled quality," said McMillen. In fact, the clarity of the calls is so high that a miniscule amount of noise has to be interjected into the background so callers know they are still on the line."

As part of Slane Telcom's aggressive growth path, it has signed a master agreement with American Tower, which provides access to 24,000 towers across the country. O'Connor has successfully completed four acquisitions of fixed wireless providers in the past two years including eSedona, the largest ISP in Sedona, Arizona. He projects three more deals will be completed in 2007.

Is the strategy working? "We established goals to be met by the end of 2006 that were exceeded by 200%. That tells me our alignment with quality organizations, our acquisitions of well respected ISPs and our intention of offering the greatest possible value through cutting edge technology and services like VoIP are on target," said O'Connor.

With more than 4,000 subscribers, Slane is quickly becoming one of the largest WISPs in the U.S.

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Posted on Feb 23, 2007  Reviews | Share |  Digg
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