WeLink, a service provider founded in 2018, has rolled out fixed wireless service offering symmetrical speeds up to a gigabit per second in metro Las Vegas and Phoenix. In an email to Telecompetitor, WeLink founder and CEO Kevin Ross said the company plans to be in a total of 10 major metros in the next 18 to 24 months.
The company will use 5G millimeter wave technology and 60 GHz wireless technology that it developed, according to Ross. The latter frequency will be used for backhaul and access, Ross said. He also noted that the access equipment uses a mesh approach. With a mesh approach, one customer’s equipment can act as a repeater for another customer, thereby extending range.
The company plans to charge $70 a month for gigabit service for 24 months or $80 a month without a time commitment, according to its web page.
WeLink will compete against Cox and Lumen/CenturyLink. Ross sees WeLink having an edge against Cox because although the cable company offers gigabit downstream speeds, its upload speeds top out at 30 Mbps, he said. And Lumen doesn’t offer fiber-to-the-premises everywhere. He also noted that customers may pay less with WeLink service in comparison with similar offerings from competitors.
A Growing Trend, But Not for Everywhere?
WeLink is the third company claiming gigabit speeds using fixed wireless technology that Telecompetitor has covered in just over a month. The other companies we covered are South Valley Internet, which offers symmetrical gigabit speeds in a semi-rural area south of Silicon Valley and Jade Communications, which offers speeds up to 2 Gbps in Manassa, Colorado.
Like WeLink, Jade Communications charges $80 a month for its gigabit service. South Valley Internet isn’t initially targeting residences because service is priced at $185 a month, but the company expects to have an offering that will be more competitively priced and suitable for residential customers when its vendor Adtran releases the next generation of the product.
These gigabit wireless deployments come at a time when the FCC has yet to determine the fate of several companies that were tentatively awarded funding in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction to bring gigabit fixed wireless to rural areas lacking broadband service.
All the fixed wireless equipment claiming gigabit speeds that Telecompetitor has run across operates at very high frequencies. Those high frequencies support faster speeds but over relatively short distances, raising the question of whether the equipment is suitable for use in rural areas.
One thing WeLink, Jade and South Valley Internet have in common is that they are all targeting areas that are somewhat densely populated. Jade uses Terragraph equipment originally developed by Facebook that uses a mesh approach. Nevertheless, customers must be within 500 to 1,000 feet of the access point or another customer/repeater for the service to work, a requirement that hasn’t been an issue in Jade’s service area, but which could be an issue in rural areas.
South Valley’s equipment also uses a mesh approach and the company is targeting a business district where it expects to have multiple customers.
Ross said WeLink has no plans to target rural areas.
Updated with additional information about the equipment WeLink is using.