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Telecom (CLEC & ILEC)

DoubleRadius has helped our telecom (CLEC & ILEC) customers grow their internet offerings with fixed wireless since 2001. This wireless delivery of internet service has opened the door for their growth in ways that would not have otherwise been possible.

Below we’ve provided an overview of fixed wireless as it fits into the world of modern the CLEC & ILEC, along with a downloadable PDF version. Reading the brief chapters of our free CLEC & ILEC Guide will provide you with practicals, as well as use case examples of telecom companies utilizing fixed wireless as a part of their business model.

Telecom (CLEC & ILEC) Guide

Review the chapters below or download the full guide by filling out the form on this page.

  1. Increasing Growth with Fixed Wireless
  2. Capitalizing on the LTE Opportunity
  3. Future Proofing with Fixed Wireless
  4. Telecom Fixed Wireless Use Case 1
  5. Telecom Fixed Wireless Use Case 2

Chapter 1 - Increasing Growth with Fixed Wireless

The Fixed Wireless Opportunity
In today’s world, it’s rare to find a telecommunications company that offers only one type of platform or service. CLECs or ILECs (Competitive/Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers) are diversified, offering a combination of services often including phone, internet, TV, and a host of others. Some Local Exchange Carriers have been offering internet services for years, progressing from copper, to dial up, to DSL and eventually fiber.

Whether or not CLECs and ILECs are new to offering internet service, deploying fixed wireless solutions opens the door for increased growth. Conveniently, fixed wireless infrastructure can be added to existing wired networks, or it can be deployed independently.

Understanding Fixed Wireless Advantages
In a previous quick guide for ISPs, we defined fixed wireless generally as, “a style of networking that involves wireless devices mounted at fixed locations, transmitting signals wirelessly from point to point and ultimately to each subscriber.” (See figure A below for a general illustration of a fixed wireless network.) Connecting new internet subscribers over fixed wire-less equipment also has several key advantages over trenching or boring fiber:

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Rapid rate of deployment
  • Coaxial cable
  • Ability to reach outlying or otherwise hard to reach customers

Through sophisticated wireless technology like lightly-licensed Long Term Evolution (LTE), fixed wireless can connect over extremely long distances - even in difficult, non-line-of-sight scenarios. (More about LTE in the next chapter.)

Even in scenarios where fiber is the intended method of providing internet, fixed wireless can play a game-changing role in advancing into new areas and winning new customers. There are bound to dead ends, where deploying fiber through certain locations isn’t possible. As illustrated in figure B above, a fixed wireless “bridge” can literally bridge the gap. Fiber traffic can to run up to one end of a bridge, be transported across wirelessly without loosing capacity, then continue on from the other end over fiber-to-the-home, business, or other location. (For more information on mixed use of fiber and fixed wireless, see our Hybrid Fiber-Wireless ISP Quick Guide.)

Temporary Use of Fixed Wireless
Another opportunity, not to be overlooked, is providing temporary fixed wireless service during fiber expansion to new areas. Telecom companies can provide broadband service immediately to their future fiber subscribers using a wireless alternative in the meantime. Fixed wireless can save the day in these scenarios, as it secures new customers and adds instant revenue.

Chapter 2 - Connecting More Customers through LTE and CBRS

Perfect Timing with LTE and CBRS
In 2018 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band of 3.55 - 3.7 GHz for license holders. Thanks to this FCC action, and the recent developments in LTE wireless technology, smaller and mid-sized telecom companies are now building their wireless networks with the same confidence that only large mobile carriers previously enjoyed. LTE is positioned to utilize the CBRS band because of its technical advantages outdoors and the affordability of equipment, as driven by competition in the marketplace.

DoubleRadius is monitoring the progress of the legislation surrounding CBRS, which affects when and how devices can be deployed in the band. We’ve produced a CBRS series in partnership with one of the leading LTE equipment manufacturers and CBRS experts. We’ll also be keeping an eye out for future developments, and will publish critical information when it’s released. Take some time to read our CBRS blog series, and subscribe to receive a notifications with each new article.

Winning as a Telecom Company in Fixed Wireless and LTE
Consider the telecompetitor success story of a telecom company that’s seen their most explosive growth through their fixed wireless internet business unit:

“Benton Ridge Telephone Company can trace its roots back over 100 years to when it started out as a rural telephone company serving the Ohio community with the same name. The largest part of the company’s business now, however, is its wireless internet service provider unit known as Watch Communications, which offers service in parts of rural Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.”

The article goes on to explain that the company will utilize the funding it receives through the Connect America Fund II (CAF II) auction to deploy fixed wireless at speeds of 25 - 100 Mbps (downstream) in the states they currently serve, and that allowing them to nearly double their coverage area:

“Watch Communications started offering fixed wire-less internet about 15 years ago as a means of getting broadband to unserved or underserved communities with a lower capital investment in comparison with fiber-based options...The company now has about 20,000 subscribers and sees take rates as high as 60% in the communities it serves...

This example demonstrates the ability for telcos to connect more subscribers with fixed wireless. As noted in the below, LTE in particular adds yet another dimension with even more connectivity possibilities. This is true for larger scale telecom companies like Benton Ridge Telephone Company, as well as for small, CLECs and ILECs covering a smaller local area.

"Watch Communications uses a mixture of licensed and unlicensed spectrum and expects to use the CBRS band in ‘a lot of areas."

Beat the Competition to the Punch with LTE
In low-to-mid bandwidth environments, fixed wireless LTE enables CLECs and ILECs to expand their broadband services more rapidly and cost-effectively than their fiber competition. By offering broadband speeds to a larger customer base, LTE providers will beat their competitors who are held up by trenching or boring fiber, and by the higher costs of deployment and customer acquisition.

Chapter 3 - Future Proofing with Fixed Wireless

Adjusting to Customer Trends
The demand for cellular and VoIP services are dramatically increasing, as well as the popularity of live internet TV and streaming media. Customers also expect faster internet for improved communications and entertainment at their fingertips. Building a growing base of wireless internet customers can provide a new revenue stream from a high-demand service with no end in sight, offsetting the gradual loss of customers on legacy telephone services. This NBC article on phone usage notes that:

"The number of landline phones in America peaked at about 193 million around 2000...connections have now dropped to under 120 million, while mobile phone accounts have soared to 396 million (which, yes, is greater than the actual number of Americans). And we all know that the mobile ‘phone’ is used for far more than making phone calls."

Think Big with Fixed Wireless
As mentioned earlier, offering fixed wireless internet can be an economical way to quickly win more customers, even as a new piece to an existing wireline network. However, wireless can play a much larger role in the big picture of CLEC & ILEC growth.

Today’s wireless is capable of delivering multiple Gigabits per second. Designed correctly, a wireless network can outperform copper, coax, or go toe-to-toe with fiber. A “triple play” of phone, internet, TV, or services such as video surveillance, can all be delivered over wireless. With proper engineering, fixed wireless but can provide CLECs and ILECs with an exciting competitive edge for years to come over fiber-only competitors!

Chapter 4 - Telecom Fixed Wireless Use Case 1

Q & A with Adam, Wireless Supervisor

What can you tell us about your company?
“Our company was founded in the early 60s as a member-owned, independent telephone company serving three towns in Iowa. Towards the end of the 70’s we bought out a competitive telephone exchange, where we installed a digital switch and all new cable facilities. In the early 80s we installed digital switches at our three original locations, along with new cable facilities for toll traffic between them. In the late 80s we joined Iowa Network Services, which connected us with over 300 rural telephone exchanges and over 125 independent telcos. Soon after we also joined up with a cellular network.

“The 90s and early 2000s were an extremely busy time for us, as we formed a new communications division of our company to roll out new CATV, internet, and VoIP services. A partnership was established with other independent telcos to form a fiber optic ring covering half a dozen towns, and to form a wireless (cellular) reseller company.”

What were the decision factors for offering fixed wireless internet?
“In 2000, the company began offering fixed wireless internet services. 2.4 GHz was used initially, then eventually 900 MHz, 5 GHz, and 3.65 GHz in the years that followed. I was not yet working for the company - in fact I was a teenager at the time. My family had dial up internet but we wanted broadband. We lived about 5 miles out of town, beyond the reach of DSL offered by the local telephone company.

“When we realized we had another option of faster internet offered wirelessly, we switched providers and became one of the early fixed wireless customers in 2002. After college, I found myself ironically working for the same company that provided that fixed wireless service for my family when I was a teen. Now I was providing that same solution my family benefited from. The fixed wireless model proved to be an effective way to reach those outlying customers like my family, and expand to new communities.”

How has fixed wireless helped your business grow?
“Over the years, we’ve seen a similar story play itself out time and time again. Building on the foundation of the communities we provided telephone service, we expanded to over 5 times as many communities (approaching 50 total) that we provide fixed wireless internet service to. Our telephone service is limited to within a couple miles of city limits, but we’ve utilized fixed wireless to expand our footprint into many of the smaller towns with a population of 2,000 or less. We truly capitalized on the opportunity to provide service far beyond those we can serve with our original telco infrastructure.

"Other important factors in our business model are cost of customer acquisition and ROI. The ROI for a new fixed wireless customer is measured in months, compared to years for a new telco customer. Likewise, the equipment and roll-out expenses are considerably lower for internet customers compared to telco customers.

“This is not to diminish how each type of customer is important. Also, wireless is not the only approach for our internet customers. When we are able to, we deploy fiber in new communities, especially when we anticipate that customers plan on streaming video as their primary source of TV. The point is that wireless is an excellent tool in our tool belt, and because we can offer robust wireless solutions, we are more maneuverable and effective than our less innovative competitors. In the new communities where we deploy wireless, we are seeing close to a 50% take rate.”

What future plans do you have for fixed wireless?
“In addition to growing our residential and commercial subscriber base as we continue to expand, a specific new application we’ve been deploying is a microwave “pipe” for cellular carriers. We deploy these private PTP licensed links to initially deliver 500 Megs full-duplex, but can increase capacity if needed. Our research and selection of the right wireless backhaul enables us to meet the passes stringent carrier requirements for our cellular customers."

What advice would you offer to telcos regarding fixed wireless?
“Telcos looking to offer wireless service should take the time to learn how to properly deploy their equipment. It’s easy to “do wireless,” but you really need to do it correctly from the start - not just slap it up. Just because it works on day one, that doesn’t guarantee that it will work a year later. Learning from those who know wireless at the outset will lay the foundation for success.”

Chapter 5 - Telecom Fixed Wireless Use Case 2

Q & A with Justin, Director of Network Operations

What can you tell us about your company?
“Our parent company provides telephone service in our home state of Nebraska, as well as Kansas. Through our subsidiary, we began offering cable TV in the 80s, then satellite TV in the 90s, followed by dial-up internet and DSL. Today, our offerings also include broadband internet over cable and wireless, Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), and smart home services.”

What were the decision factors for offering fixed wireless internet?
“Wireless has allowed us to connect new customers much more quickly, and at much faster speeds than DSL, all while keep prices low. In lower population density areas, where cost was a big concern, choosing wireless technology helped us keep our broadband prices low without sacrificing quality of service.”

How has fixed wireless helped your business grow?
“Since around 2002, by offering wireless in addition to just telephone service, we’ve tripled our customer base! When we started offering the higher speeds of wireless, we’d catch the attention of nearby towns. We were then able to expand our wireless subscriber base significantly in those new areas.”

What future plans do you have for fixed wireless?
“Our residential service is currently 1.5 - 12 Mbps. We are working to make 25 Mbps packages available to our PTMP customers, with the possibility of doubling that in the future, as wireless technology continues to advance.”

What advice would you offer to telcos regarding fixed wireless?
“When we expand to new areas, we offer wireless internet as the only service. We understand customers can utilize this not only for internet essentials like web surfing, emails, texts, and social networking, but also for streaming content services and online gaming. If the demand for cable TV diminishes, and the need for faster internet speeds increases, we can then invest more in our network. This simplifies the expansion process for us and keeps us quick on our feet.”


Seize the Fixed Wireless Moment
The practicals and real world examples provided in this guide offer a starting point for telecom companies considering fixed wireless. This new addition can be an important part of your growth and expansion, your ability to connect more customers, and your future success.

Get Support as You Get Started
Now that you’ve had a chance to read the entire Quick Guide to Fixed Wireless for Telecom (CLEC & ILEC), you may be thinking about making changes to your network. DoubleRadius is able to support your efforts with:

  • Network Design
  • Onsite Training
  • Startup Phone Support

While onsite, we can train your team in configuration, installation, basic wireless (RF), and link planing. To get help now, schedule a free network consultation and contact DoubleRadius by calling 866-891-3602 or click to Schedule a Free Consultation. We are here to help you build a better network!