Most see a bright future for the WISP business, but cite access to spectrum as the biggest threat to business viability
CAMPBELL, Calif. — November 18, 2013 — Exalt Communications, Inc., the leading innovator of next-generation wireless connectivity systems for private networks and Internet infrastructures, today announced the results of a blind survey of 500 executives whose companies provide broadband access to commercial and residential subscribers throughout the U.S. The survey identified key concerns and attitudes among these wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) who primarily serve rural markets. Exalt commissioned the blind survey in October to take a reading on the current breakdown of technologies in WISP backhaul networks, to determine what issues are driving the business, and to understand the effect, if any, the economy has had on business growth.
Among the survey’s surprising findings was that 63 percent of respondents cited performance, not cost, as the single most important factor in choosing wireless backhaul solutions. (Cost was a distant second at 29 percent.) This result is evidence that delivering high-bandwidth services is of paramount importance to WISPs in an era when downloading video from services like Netflix is becoming the favored application of wireless subscribers. In a related question, more than 90 percent of respondents said that higher bandwidth or providing bandwidth levels otherwise unavailable were the main competitive advantages they offer customers.
“Across the globe, we’ve seen access to spectrum as a major concern for operators of all types,” said Peter Jarich, VP of Consumer and Infrastructure at Current Analysis. “It’s not surprising to see this concern expressed by the WISP community. Nor, in the face of rising traffic demands, is it surprising to see backhaul performance as a major hot button. What is surprising is that cost is now a distant second to performance in this particular cost-driven market. Taken together, the worries about spectrum and performance speak to the need for scalable solutions with the flexibility to support a wide array of bands, including license-exempt spectrum.”
The survey also revealed that most WISPs (60 percent) see business conditions improving over the next six months, and most (75 percent) reported higher dollar sales in the previous business quarter. Still, access to spectrum remains the biggest factor imperiling the health of their businesses, according to 49 percent of respondents. This underscores the concern regarding the scarcity of spectrum assets that is frequently voiced by large US mobile operators as well as service providers of all sizes.
“The key to continued development and growth in this digital age is broadband access, and WISPs are the digital pioneers opening the educational and economic opportunities of the world to rural communities everywhere,” said Amir Zoufonoun, CEO of Exalt. “Our WISP customers are truly bridging the digital divide, using Exalt systems to backhaul networks that rival those of the nationwide carriers, and deliver real-time streaming video, instant high-speed web access, high-definition television, Voice over IP, video instant messaging, and real-time data backup.”
Among other key findings of the survey:
• 73 percent of WISPs rely on fixed wireless as their primary means of network backhaul, with microwave backhaul accounting for 75% of it
• Acquiring new customers is the biggest worry (60 percent)
• Services pricing (31 percent) and cost control (30 percent) are the most important factors in continuing success
• 78 percent of respondents expect the WISP business to be thriving five years from now
About Exalt Communications
Exalt Communications, Inc. is a forerunner in the global Internet revolution, delivering high-value wireless systems that transform the economics of connectivity. Exalt wireless systems extend or complement network fiber and replace now-outdated copper, enabling customers to accelerate time-to-market, optimize network performance, and reduce network infrastructure costs. Today, over 2,000 global customers, from the world’s largest mobile operators to independent service providers, government agencies, and multinational enterprises depend on Exalt systems as they move their applications to the Cloud, enable mobility, and connect the unconnected. Learn more at www.exaltcom.com