HBC gets a nod for wireless work in rural Minnesota

A recent article in the Daily Yonder looks at WISPs – Wireless Internet Service Providers  as the “unsung heroes” of rural broadband, calling out HBC by name…

Even some traditional fiber providers are seeing value in adopting a WISP mindset. Hiawatha Broadband Communications in Minnesota has been selling residents in 10 towns 25 Mbps symmetrical wireless since 2015. An internet service provider might take several years to finish a fiber network, but Hiawatha got wireless up and running much more quickly. Rather than wait for fiber, Hiawatha’s customers are overjoyed to get wireless because the only other option was dial up.

“Rather than focus on speed, the policy makers, funding agencies, and others should focus on unlimited data because if you listen to consumers, that’s what they want,” says Carr. “Fixed wireless with no data caps is the sweet spot where WISPs play. This bias against wireless in some quarters is no longer grounded in reality.”

The Daily Yonder does a good job describing the difference between fixed wireless (which is what they are talking about here) and cellular…

WISPs use fixed wireless, in which a transmitter “fixed” in one location transports data back and forth between one or more receivers fixed on homes, buildings, or other structures. Fixed wireless is different from, and performs better than, cellular data networks. WISPs generally don’t have strict data caps and high overage charges, the way many cellular data plans do.

I have often said there is a place for wireless AND wired connections. As the article points out, fixed wireless is a fraction of the cost to deploy fiber. So it is an good interim solution – build wireless to build a customer base and serve a community need while working on fiber. And even once fiber is deployed, people will want the mobility of a wireless solution.

This entry was posted in MN, Wireless by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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