Written Nov 2005
Things have definitely changed in the last 23 months. Comcast and Qwest have come in and are staking out the easy to reach locations in the towns and along the main highway corridors. They still do not get much off the highway from 40 and 34. They have not reached Kremmling or Parshall - One or the other will.
In the meantime we have expanded to over 450 customers with wireless internet. Over 300 since I wrote those words in Jan of 2004. We still continue to expand and have been at least 4 weeks behind in installs since the beginning of 2005. Where would I like to go from here.
1. I would like to strech our wireless backbone over to Hot Sulphur Springs and Kremmling. This would make those places more economical to support. This means two high broadcast points without power that will need to have solar power installed. I would also like to cover the town of Parshall and some of the regions of county road 3.
2. There are parts of the Winter Park Highlands we cannot reach yet. With some agreements we could rebroadcast to those areas. they are out of reach of DSL and cable.
3. There are areas of county road 5 and 50 that cannot be reached yet. I am not sure if there is any incentive for DSL or cable out there either.
4. And there is the back area of county road 41 which I am waiting for. If someone puts a house in the right spot we could reach them.
There are new technologies coming that allow us to move from point to point with less expensive equipment. this may help in some areas to bring in services. In the meantime I am looking at wildblue and other satellite services as an altenative.
The future is now. Our monthly pricing is where I thought it might be in 3 years!! What changed? Our costs have changed! 1 to 4 computers at $50 per month and $200 for install! My desire to impliment high speed access has!
Down below is my initial plan for high speed access. It does not work! Due to the high customer equipment startup costs, the numbers signing up were not happening. I have most of the equipment installed for broadcasting and the T1's are in place. I am paying for them! So one evening, I started playing with my spreadsheets to see how to get better acceptance of high speed service. After juggling startup costs, monthly costs and signup numbers per month, it became apparent that in order to break even on monthly costs, I need to have about 240 customers in 18 months. This is only possible if I offer high speed internet now at prices I expected to have in 3 years or $30 per month. This is about $20 per month less than what high speed service in Denver costs.
In addition, high speeed satellite service is available to me for resale. This just changed in the last month. So now I can take care of the people in the woods who need and can afford high speed services. ( Note I reconsidered this after hearing Satellite horror stories so I am not offering that service yet.)
And finally, I have a new installer. I think he will be able to handle the work and get it done on time. This was just not happening over the last months.
When I first started investigating Wireless Internet Services, I was not sure that we could support it in Grand County except as a very expensive solution. This would mean it would limit the customer base that could take advantage of it. There were several things which in my mind made it seem to be very difficult.
The first difficulty is that this service was line of sight which meant that it was necessary to find points at which each customer could see the point where the broadcast antenna (access Point) was placed. This meant it would work fine in towns but maybe not in the woods. And there was the question if the cost of getting data access to the access point would be covered by monthly income. This was resolved within a week when Qwest told me that T1's in Grand County would no longer incur mileage charges. This reduced the monthly costs of the T1 circuits by $200-$300 per month. This means even in smaller areas where there may only be a base of 20 customers we can get wireless services. And it is less expensive to have to pay out for the additional T1's as the customer base grows
The next difficulty was that the cost of equipment seemed to be so expensive. Since it involves high quality radios and often expensive external antennas, the up front costs are high. I also choose a radio with a lot of features that are important to both me the ISP and my customer base. As the industry stands right now most of the equipment is not inter operable so it is necessary to choose a manufacturer that is right for now and in the future. I choose Breezecom products as they have the highest installed base in the world, offer the most features to allow future expansion, and can offer best possible delivery of services. Yes, the equipment is expensive, but I plan to make the cost of the equipment more manageable by offering it for sale at my cost, offering leasing for companies, and rental for individuals. And the cost of the equipment can be less than a new computer (your older computer not being dependent upon a modem can be used a little longer and allow you to invest in the equipment).
The final difficulty is keeping the monthly costs low. The up front costs to start this service are costly. Most ISP's who are still in business want to make theses costs break even in 1 year or we will not take on the investment. When I examined all costs, I was able to calculate that within a year of a customer starting the service, I should have enough customers that I could reduce the costs of services to them as I would have covered their startup costs. This means where a single user would cost $50 per month initially, after one year of their having service, I should be able to reduce their monthly cost to about $40. I want to make this technology cost-wise affordable for everyone. I have looked at other ISP's offering Wireless internet at multiples of what I am pricing it at and reaping great profits from a small segment of business. I want everyone to be able to afford this service in the future.
Of course this will not happen if we do not cover our costs by getting enough customers. But I believe high speed internet will be like dialup was when I started my business, once it is working, people will start converting very quickly. So I decide to go ahead and make the investment.
And finally the infrastructure behind the wireless. Right now, I have 3 data T1's which allow me to carry up to 4.5 megabytes of data per second. With wireless, this would grow rapidly. So I am now putting in fiber optics to carry all the capacity we will need in the future. In the long run, it saves monthly data costs and allows for very easy data expansion. In the short run, I must meet very high investment costs.
So what does this mean and how do I project this out. We will start in December 2001. I project that by the end of 2002, I will have about 500 wireless customers (about 1/3 of my current full time user base). I do not expect to have the number of dialup customers drop significantly as I see my dialup customer base continuing to grow at the same rate it always has. If this happens, you can expect the following:
1. Monthly costs for wireless to drop to $40 per month. This is less than a current phone line and dialup access costs. Part of this will be driven by our investment in Fiber Optic High Speed T3 upgrades which will lower our costs.
2. Equipment costs will start dropping in late 2002 as some mass manufacturing economies will start to take place then. We will see more customers taking advantage of these services. Wireless internet is being promoted by small ISP's in rural locations and promises to be a mainstream for these ISP's for at least 5 years. Equipment costs will continue to drop which will encourage more users.
3, We will be expanding into more remote areas of the county as our initial install costs at the town access points begin to pay off. If demand is great in any area we will not think twice about offering services there.
Check back and see how we are doing. remember, your investing now in High speed wireless helps insure the improvement of broadband internet in Grand County.
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