Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Security and Convenience

March 18th, 2003 · No Comments

TheStreet.com writes that the “killer apps for investors will probably be software that enhances security and permits seamless roaming between all types of wired and unwired networks.” It builds on the WiFi theme, provide some ideas for solving the connectivity issues in rural areas:

Several well-financed start-up companies have already begun to sell advanced wi-fi transmitters, amplifiers and antennas that allow just about anyone to become a freelance telecom carrier by broadcasting a single broadband signal across a wide area.

The pioneer in this field is Glenn Wilson, president and founder of M33 Access in northern Michigan. Frustrated that none of the telecom carriers would bring high-speed Internet connections to the depressed countryside surrounding his hometown of Rose City, Wilson figured out how to buy a hodgepodge of parts from Florida-based online retailer HyperLink Technologies and rig up the country’s first renegade high-speed wireless ISP.

He now operates the largest consecutive wireless broadband grid in the country — about 100 square miles — with no telecom carrier involved, by beaming the signal from one self-rigged 200-foot-tall tower to the next. He sells wireless broadband to farmers, homes, school districts and small-business owners for as little as $25 a month (if you have a child in school, he’ll cut the price to $15). In a few weeks, Wilson plans to be able to add voice-over-Internet to his list of services, which will allow him to offer virtually free local and long-distance service at 4 cents a minute.

“Our company is about bringing Michigan out of Hooterville,” he says, referring to the ’60s-era TV show “Green Acres” in which communications was handled by tin can. “We’re causing the regional Bells some problems. We have 6,000 customers and they love us — no one is going to move in and take them away.”

Wilson uses Cisco routers at his head end and Orinoco-brand wi-fi radios made by Proxim; he runs the whole thing on Intel-based servers. But the whole operation, which obliterates the need for million-dollar switches made by old-school manufacturers like Lucent Technologies and Ciena, isn’t going to make equipment investors rich. The stuff is just too cheap, not to mention easy to upgrade and maintain.

Tags: Telecom

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