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 packet microwave backhaul systems, 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, versus 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:
About Exalt Communications
Exalt Communications provides next-generation packet microwave backhaul systems to mobile operators, broadband service providers, government agencies, and enterprises worldwide. Exalt wireless systems are used most often as a complement or cost-effective alternative to fiber. They also have been inherently designed to support the rapid build out of the LTE mobile Internet infrastructure driven by ever growing user-generated traffic and fueled by the accelerated adoption rate of smartphones and tablets. www.exaltcom.com
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|Pamela ValentineVice President, Marketing Outbound & Channel
Exalt Communications Inc.
Exalt Communications and the Exalt logo are trademarks, and ExtremeAir is a registered trademark, of Exalt Communications, Inc.
Exalt Communications has several models of microwave backhaul radios that can take advantage of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent ruling that allows the use of wider channels in the 6-GHz and 11-GHz bands. The ruling allows service providers and other network operators to handle more capacity and offer faster data at much lower cost than is currently possible. “Because the FCC has doubled the maximum channel bandwidth at 6 and 11 GHz, the cost of deploying equipment has essentially been cut in half. This makes expanding broadband coverage far more cost-effective and can open opportunities to provide coverage in new areas,” Mark Davis, Exalt senior director of product marketing, told Backhaul Bulletin.
Davis also told the Bulletin that the economic implication of the FCC’s latest decision regarding wider channels for microwave backhaul radios is straightforward. “To carry more traffic—data, voice, video—requires higher modulation rates or wider channels,” he continued. “The ruling addresses wider channels and there is a certain maximum channel size allowed in any Part 101 band (6, 11, 18 and 23 GHz). A network operator always has the option of increasing capacity by adding channel bandwidth by installing more radios. But this typically doubles or triples the cost of the equipment,” said Davis.
Exalt designed ExploreAir, ExploreAir LR, ExploreAir HP, and ExtremeAir radios to support the 80-megahertz-wide channels now available in the 11-GHz frequency band. ExploreAir LR, also supports the 60-megahertz-wide channels available in the 6-GHz lower band. Network operators can use Exalt ExloreAir and ExtremeAir systems to provide twice the single-carrier capacity achievable before the ruling—without the need to buy additional hardware.
The benefit of the FCC ruling to Exalt customers is clear, according to Davis. “They can double the capacity for the same CAPEX, and that means far less cost per megabit per second,” he told the Bulletin. “The ruling benefits Exalt because we’re currently the only vendor to commercially support these wider channels. Other players in the market will eventually catch up, but it will take time because a change in hardware is required. We designed our radios in anticipation of this ruling and, because of our foresight regarding the use of these wider channels, we’re first to market and that’s a big advantage.”