Case Study: Home-Grown Corporate WLAN Breeds Success: Page 2

Posted September 27, 2001

Gerry Blackwell

Gerry Blackwell

(Page 2 of 2)

A little over two years ago he went live with his network. It took more hops than he thought to link all the offices—14 altogether. But the short hops, along with top-quality antennas, make for a rock-solid network that rarely if ever goes down.

Many of the 12-Mbps Wi-LAN radios are located on municipal water towers, which is a very cost effective solution—he pays about $200 rent a year to the towns and has no construction or tower costs.

Brister claims that with what he knows now and current equipment prices, he could build the network today for more like $170,000.

Ironically, with carrying costs on the capital, he admits the actual final bill probably comes pretty close to the $6,500 a month Bell was if you amortize over five years.

"But I'm in total control," Brister points out. "And I don't have to keep sending checks to Bell or some other outfit forever."

Plus, he gets multi-megabit throughput between offices instead of 56 Kbps. With the addition of a 1-Mbps Internet service, he has a communications system the envy of many big-city companies.

Economic equation
In fact, despite the hefty capital investment, Brister insists the network is paying for itself. His long distance phone bill has been reduced by $1,500 to $2,000 a month because the company now mostly uses e-mail to communicate.

As planned, he eliminated much of the duplication of effort in the offices and has employees working more effectively and efficiently as a result.

"When people ask me what the system cost, I tell them, 'It cost me nothing,'" he says.

The network was also part of forward-planning strategy. Brister knows that soon his insurance company suppliers are going to require he do business with them over the Web—some already are demanding it—and that will require significant bandwidth. With the fixed wireless network, he's ready.

Brister insists he doesn't want to be in the business of reselling bandwidth, but he may end up in it anyway. Other companies in the towns and villages his network passes are already knocking on his door asking him for a piece of the pipe.

He's just beginning to experiment with giving it to them. "As long as it doesn't interfere with our operations," he says. "It might help defray some of our costs too." No kidding.

The availability of broadband services can change the economic outlook of a region. As Brister notes, when you have a low-cost—low rent, low labor cost—area like his near a high-cost area like Ottawa, there is real opportunity to lure businesses to your turf and increase the tax base.

So the big question is, if demand for bandwidth exists now and there is the possibility of more arising, where were—where are—the wireless entrepreneurs?

This article was first published on 802.11 Planet, an internet.com site.

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