Voice of the WISP

By Scott Imhoff

For the second year in a row, Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) around the world have shared their perspective in the WISP Survey sponsored by Cambium Networks. In answering 38 vendor-neutral questions, 721 WISPs from 47 countries, provided a comprehensive view of the global WISP industry.  The active participation in the 2018 Survey reflected a 40% increase in responses and 20% increase in countries compared to the 511 and 34 respective results from 2017. The theme that emerged from the 2018 survey was the high level of optimism held by the global WISP community, despite the challenges of funding, availability of spectrum and competition.

RCR Wireless recently published the results of the survey, and we will be sharing the full details with each of the participants and on Cambium Networks Community, but I wanted to share some of the key insights directly.

From our position as an equipment supplier to the WISP industry, three things stand out in ways that both encourage and challenge me personally and Cambium Networks as a company:

  • First, WISPs are meeting the needs of their customers by not only offering highly reliable broadband access but are increasingly offering managed Wi-Fi and IT support. This indicates that in addition to great transmission technology, WISPs need management tools to assist in provisioning, monitoring, troubleshooting, and managing networks. While our cnMaestro management system continues to grow, Cambium Networks will need to work closely with WISPs to provide the right information in an easy-to-use format so that they can maximize end customer satisfaction and minimize downtime. It is also interesting to see the decline in voice services, in line with the broader landline industry as mobile lines continue to take market share there.  I have a hypothesis that the decline in video surveillance services may mirror the proliferation of simple, low cost, Wi-Fi-based solutions.  Those solutions are gaining an audience in home security but do not offer the same level of reliability or quality as dedicated point-to-point or point-to-multipoint transport networks, but that is a blog for another time.

  • Second, while competition and pricing pressure increases, WISPs have increasing optimism. The geography where WISPs operate is not necessarily remote locations without competition. As traditional carriers expand their networks, WISPs are confident that they can compete effectively by offering higher throughputs and better prices and providing more responsive customer service that satisfies customers. Equipment providers have earned the respect of WISPs by providing the network technology that they need and must continue to do so as technology continues to evolve with LTE and 5G.

  • Third, one thing did not change from the prior year: When WISP customers cancel service, by far the most frequent reason given is that they do so because they are moving to another location. At a time when the American Customer Satisfaction Index for Internet Service Providers is at 62%, WISPs are winning customer loyalty because of their ability to set and meet or exceed expectations. Every customer relationship is fragile, and manufacturers must provide solutions that continue to satisfy the price/performance requirements of the service providers’ business case.

The WISP industry continues to provide business and residential customers with the broadband services that they need for streaming video, data transfer and voice connections. WISPs are growing by providing great throughput and reliable quality at very competitive prices – without requiring contracts for other TV or cellular services. Being local, they know their customers well and satisfy their connectivity needs; being right-sized, they can speak directly with their customers and respond quickly to questions and needs.

Being technically savvy, WISPs also have their finger on the pulse of new technology and are quick to share their technical expertise and field experience. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Ideas section of our community, I invite you to see the suggestions that are factored into our development plan or post one of your own and let the community iterate on your idea.

Cambium Networks greatly values our WISP customers around the world. Since our early days, our equipment has provided resilient high-performance connectivity. Working with WISPs, we have extended our capabilities to create a wireless fabric of solutions, including Massive MU-MIMO cnMedusa™ technology in the PMP 450m and MU-MIMO in the ePMP™ 3000 system. We have also expanded our product line to include cnPilot™ indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi, cnReach™ IIoT connectivity, and the cnMaestro™ end-to-end management system.

If you would like to be included in the third annual WISP survey that we will conduct in a few months, you can register here to have your voice heard.

Published February 22, 2019