Blasting Into the Future with Fixed Wireless Broadband

By    May 22, 2015


I am constantly impressed by the ingenuity and commitment displayed by our service providers’ engineers and product managers, whether they work for established telephone operators, startups or large enterprises. 

I recently had the chance to meet with Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative, a power and telephone cooperative in Iowa whose footprint is mostly within 150 miles of Cambium Networks’ headquarters in the Chicago suburbs. Allamakee-Clayton saw the chance to bring high-speed data and telephone service to a significantly underserved market where 256kbps is sometimes the maximum “broadband” offered from the much larger neighboring incumbent provider. These poor Iowans stuck with 1995-quality Internet speeds would surely welcome the chance to spring forward to 2015 with real broadband Internet. 

Determined to right this wrong, Allamakee-Clayton is deploying a mix of our point-to-multipoint (PMP) products atop its considerable inventory of wood poles. It’s estimated that wood poles are approximately 1/25th the cost of a tower deployment. Another plus – the team’s electric utility experience makes our equipment that much faster to plan and install. In the time it takes for the initial soil check required for a metal tower, Allamakee-Clayton can place a pole and complete an installation. It uses point-to-point (PTP) wireless for backhaul from the pole to the tower or grain silo, which allows the team to rapidly deploy up to 20 Mbps service very economically, even with less than 10 subscribers served per pole at times. Allamakee-Clayton appreciates Cambium Networks’ comprehensive product portfolio, ease of deployment and support. 

This is not the cooperative’s only business and it is relatively new to wireless, but its network is already having a significant positive impact on the community with its service, which provides up to 80x the connectivity speed of the incumbent.  Broadband & IT Manager Jeff Rhodes explained that thanks to some of the new CPE options available, service plans can now extend beyond broadband Internet to voice and just about any connectivity need. The approach is clearly a methodical one, limited only by the height of Allamakee-Clayton’s 70-foot bucket truck.  

We’re not the only one impressed. The cooperative is one of the winners of the United States FCC’s Rural Broadband Experiment, which rewards creativity in advanced rural broadband deployments.  On behalf of folks in northeast Iowa stuck with dial-up speeds, I am rooting for Allamakee-Clayton. 

Every day, we see examples of great engineering and ingenuity with our rapidly evolving wireless portfolio, and we look forward to sharing more of them. We’d also love to hear your stories. Feel free to share them on our forum, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or email us.