wireless tower silo

Seventy-seven percent of wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) surveyed by equipment maker Cambium Networks said that they “are optimistic about their capacity to service their business and residential customers.” This compares to 66% who expressed such optimism in the company’s first wireless ISP study in 2017.

Funding and financing are the top concern of 30% of respondents. This was closely followed by RF spectrum availability at 28%. 

The survey found that 33% of respondents intend to go after the small- and medium-sized (SMB) market next year. Opinion was closely divided when asked about specific services that they are considering offering. The top target is smart cities (at 19%). It is only a tad above smart home applications and managed services (both at 18%). Industrial applications, at 13%, is the next most popular option.

“WISPs are again showing their resourcefulness to serve their customer with the best possible technical solutions, and their work is being rewarded in the coin of customer loyalty,” Scott Imhoff, Cambium Networks’ senior vice president of product management, said in a press release about the wireless ISP study. “In 2021, we anticipate seeing the average number of both business and residential subscribers grow, as WISPs continue to provide reliable connectivity at affordable prices.”

Over one quarter (26%) of WISPs now offer managed Wi-Fi. Among WISPs offering managed Wi-Fi, 40% find that offering it is relatively easy to do.

WISP Managed Wi-Fi Data (Source: Cambium)

Though it was not validated with survey results in the press release, Cambium noted that WISPs will benefit from the advances that will enable them to provide multi-gigabit edge networking using 60 GHz spectrum. The release also notes that domestic WISPs have taken advantage of Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum that the FCC has opened.

The press release notes that the uptick in optimism among WISPs is happening despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. As steep as these challenges are, it is important to note that they represent an opportunity for the wireless ISP segment to show its stuff. 

This seems to be happening. The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) pointed out in August that demands brought on by COVID-19 have driven WISPs to become more central to the lives of users.

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