Back in 2007, every small town in North America had at least one, if not two, wireless ISPs. We know, because many were our customers. The NetEqualizer was an essential piece to their profitability. Our optimization techniques allowed ISPs to extend their bandwidth service to more customers, hence increasing their profitability. And then came the great recession. Even as consumers were squeezed, many of these smaller wireless ISPs initially fared well, as their customers would never cancel their Internet service. One operator told me “Our customers will pay their Internet bill before their heating bill. You can wear a coat to get warm but you cannot live without the Internet.”
Then came the death-blow of the Broadband Initiative, not a bad idea in principle, but as many government spending programs in the past, it did not trickle down to the smaller businesses, nor was the initial spend self-sustaining. Instead, big chunks of the new-found money went to entrenched large providers who had been ignoring investing in rural areas, or it went into new ventures, friends of friends, people who had expertise in the ISP arena, and their businesses eventually fizzled. The net effect was that the smaller ISPs who had laid the ground work in these rural areas and had been expanding were stopped in their tracks, unable to compete against subsidized competition.
Today the wireless ISPs that weathered the storm are seeing a resurgence, bolstered by better technology, the failure of many Broadband Initiative projects, and consumers being squeezed by the high prices and poor service of the entrenched monopolies.
Every week we are hearing from our old wireless ISP customers ready to upgrade their equipment; some of them have not been in contact with us since 2011. Stay tuned, this is an evolving story.