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Wireless broadband for the masses

By Joie Steck, Director of Marketing, WIMAN Systems GmbH & Co. KG

For the vast majority of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in emerging markets weak wire infrastructure poses a serious challenge. For example, in Puerto Rico the deployment of fiber and other wire infrastructure is severely limited by the topographical characteristics of the island. This limitation combined with the outdated infrastructure of the local ILEC, makes it almost impossible to build solutions and deliver connectivity to clients within a reasonable time frame. Long installation delays and the precarious environment of Puerto Rico have led to expensive and outdated wire-based solutions for customers in need of connectivity. Recently CLECs have installed more fiber and infrastructure throughout the island, but still, these new companies are not able to offer a “last-mile solution” for customers.

Faced with only poor quality lines to service the entire island, Islanet Communications, now the largest ISP in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, was determined to find a better solution.

The Case for Wireless Local Loop
After a lengthy search, Islanet found the right tool for capturing this last-mile market in the technology developed by WIMAN Systems, Inc. “We studied and tested other wireless products, but WIMAN’s technical support and the robustness of their system was a notch above the competition, and a perfect fit for a telecommunications solution in Puerto Rico,” explains Islanet CEO Felipe Hernandez. “The WIMAN System’s robust Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum technology and unparalleled receiver sensitivity provide superior performance in saturated RF environments like Puerto Rico, a real testament to the system’s military pedigree. To top it off, this wireless solution has proven to be up to 60% more cost effective than that of any other local wired or fiber service.”

The WIMAN II Series is a high-performance, high-speed wireless local loop network that provides dedicated wireless Internet and intranet access with raw data rate speeds of 2 Mbps. The system is designed for flexible spectrum usage, operating in various frequency ranges, depending on the needs of the service provider. The 2.4 GHz WIMAN II System used by Islanet operates in the ISM band, which is a non-regulated, public access range in many countries.

Using WIMAN products, Islanet has successfully built a Frame-Relay cloud covering all of Puerto Rico. WIMAN WLL networks have proved ideal for the ISP, thanks to several features. WIMAN’s Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum modulation technology offers security against eavesdropping and robustness against jamming. The network’s scalablility allows providers to strategically deploy infrastructure in accordance with the demands of a growing customer base, meaning capital outlay can be directly correlated to revenues. The synchronization of base stations allows a virtually unlimited number of customers to be serviced from one location without interference or loss of speed.

Additionally, WIMAN provides commercial-grade wireless broadband transmission over extended ranges of up to 20 miles with the highest level of performance. Islanet customers McDonalds, FedEx, Biometrics/TTI, Inc., the United States Postal Service, and others all rely on WIMAN equipment for ATM and ITM networking and VPNs.

Frustrated by the state of telecommunications on the island and by the inability to obtain services, many local businesses like Coopaca and FedEx turned to Islanet for a solution. Coopaca, the largest credit union on the island, had fourteen branches already established throughout Puerto Rico that were operating without connectivity because the local ILEC had not provided them service. Although each branch was already incurring costs in utilities, payroll, and equipment, the lack of connectivity made it impossible for the different branches to communicate with one another, prohibiting them from opening for business. Through WIMAN’s wireless solution, Islanet was able to connect fourteen branches in less than 30 days, providing them the service needed while, at the same time, reducing their communication costs by over 40%. Today, Coopaca is a satisfied customer, having received flawless connectivity for over a year.

FedEx faced a different set of challenges. Although FedEx had managed to establish connectivity, it was being serviced by the ILEC at an astronomical monthly rate with limited and spotty service. The service FedEx was receiving was so unreliable that the company was forced to deploy a backup system through Islanet. After reviewing the economically viable and technologically reliable services provided by Islanet, FedEx decided to terminate the ILEC service and rely solely on Islanet.

Islanet provides a simple and cost-effective way to bring connectivity to customers faster than any other carrier on the island. Businesses now contact Islanet to provide services without having to turn to other CLECs to complete connectivity. Through the WIMAN System, Islanet allows these businesses to be completely independent from the local ILEC or any other carrier. Islanet can provide services in a matter of days compared to the nearly two-month waiting period other carriers offer. “With the services we offer, you can connect your branches with intranet or to the Internet at a fraction of the cost of any inter-connection service on the island,” says Hernandez.

Best Built Public Network or Service
Further supporting the viability of WIMAN networks as a flexible last-mile solution, Islanet was honored at the annual SUPERQuest Awards for its innovative network based entirely upon the WIMAN System.

The coveted SUPERQuest Awards, which are co-sponsored by SUPERCOMM and CMP Media's tele.com magazine in cooperation with Network Magazine, recognize companies with products or services that significantly and innovatively advance the idea of network convergence. Over 250 companies were nominated, yet fewer than a dozen were recognized with awards. Islanet was named the “Best Built Public Network or Service” by the SUPERQuest Awards in the wireless/mobile networks and/or services category for its WIMAN powered wireless broadband networks.

Currently Islanet has a network of more than 60 POPs (points of presence) throughout Puerto Rico to manage data and voice traffic. In the past three years Islanet’s customer base has grown to over a thousand customers, including MCI WorldCom, McDonald’s, UUNET, and the US Government. “Through this network, we run data, voice, video, and high-speed Internet to all locations. As of now, Islanet provides the only ‘last-mile solution’ on the island for companies and carriers who need a rapid deployment of advanced services,” says Hernandez. The development of this sophisticated wireless infrastructure in Puerto Rico demonstrates WIMAN System's successful execution of an emerging marketing strategy, which emphasizes deployment of intranet/VPN services throughout developing countries.

WIMAN Systems has partnered with many companies in both developed and emerging markets in a similar manner, offering all of them innovative and affordable communications solutions. Today, WIMAN networks cover major metropolitan areas across North America, Europe, South America, and Africa, as well as more remote corners of the globe.

Wireless in Developed Markets
In developed markets WIMAN’s WLAN HZ product line has been a valuable tool in responding to the European population’s eagerness for “anytime, anywhere broadband services.” In accordance with WIMAN Systems’ philosophy of staying at the forefront of technological advancements, the company has recently responded to the demand for mobile, wireless broadband access by expanding its product line to include the WIMAN WLAN HZ Series — a ruggedized wireless local area network based on the universal 802.11 standard and designed for inexpensive outdoor hot zone and hot spot networks.

Hot spots, areas serviced by a wireless network access point to allow anyone passing through with an 802.11 device on their laptop or PDA to obtain access rights to the Web, are currently receiving a lot of industry attention. Touted as the next phenomenon of a magnitude comparable to computers and the Internet, they are highly desirable for everyone reliant upon the Internet, from business executives working outside the office to teenagers playing computer games. Hot zones are clusters of public hot spot networks covering an entire locale such as a city center or pedestrian zone with mobile, wireless connectivity.

WIMAN WLAN HZ is an affordable, secure, and fast alternative to wired line networks, offering mobile data transfer at rates of up to 11 Mbps over extended ranges. WIMAN’s WLAN HZ also integrates seamlessly with the company’s Wireless Local Loop WIMAN II System Products. Network operators can custom design networks employing both the WIMAN WLL and WLAN HZ radios to best suit the demands of their customer base, making WIMAN WLAN HZ a flexible building block for hot-zone infrastructure covering entire cities or regions.

Shortly after the new product line was introduced, the first WIMAN WLAN HZ hot spot network was successfully deployed in Heilbronn, Germany. Residents and visitors to Heilbronn now enjoy the Internet without wires and have inspired the propagation of additional hot spots and hot zones around the country. Further serving the people of Germany, a project deploying WIMAN networks in small cities and residential areas currently underway has already won over many markets. The service fills a void in areas under-served with DSL and competes effectively in terms of price, speed and mobility where DSL is available.

WIMAN customers in both developed and emerging markets credit the company’s broad range of cutting-edge communications networks with simplifying the process of being a successful wireless broadband service provider.

For more information, please contact:
Joie Steck: joie@wiman.net

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