Many of us exist, almost unnoticed (I'm not in the yellow pages, for
instance - not yet) by anyone except our customers.   Many of us fill
"niche" markets, small towns without other ISP's, rural areas not served by
dsl or cable due to customer density and distance issues, etc.   A few of us
are "mainstream" operators.  Those go toe to toe with, and provide nearly as
"universal" of coverage in our defined areas of operation as do telcos and
cable operators.

Over the last two years, in our discussions about the formation of WISPA,
federal policy discussions, FCC proposals and reports of meetings with the
FCC, it has been my impression that we have represented ourselves as mostly
the "niche" and rural operators.   I have gathered from the FCC's comments
that they may view us as that as well.

Our discussions are often about growth, and how we try to become more
"mainstream" within whatever our chosen markets are.   Often, I see
"competing with cable and dsl", and I don't really try to.  I'll tell a
caller that if they can get dsl, it's going to be cheaper for them.   I'll
also lay out a scenario where I can provide them a service that allows them
to go VOIP and cellular only, and they often find it financially
advantageous for them to switch, even though I am not cheaper than
advertised DSL. It's happened a couple times, so far.  In other words, I am
a "niche" operator.   But if I see the right combination of equipment and
capabilities and spectrum, I might move to become more mainstream.

And, with all that being said,  what do we see the role of WISP's being in
2, 5, 10 years?   Will we become "mainstream" and be ubiquitous in areas
served by what is now "conventional" and exist as a "normal" alternative?
OR do we think that we're going to remain somewhat on the fringes, the niche
markets, and mostly small operators?

This 'self' image, whatever is portrayed by WISPA, is going to influence, at
least to some degree, the policymaker's urgency to regulate us.   Each time
the mainstream folks ask for something, it is always in the context of "this
is vital, for us to deliver what we're expected to deliver".   There has
been considerable attention focused on the rural and niche markets for
broadband purposes lately, and that HAS gotten us consideration by the FCC
on some issues.   I can't say we've made any big strides,  but the wheels of
government rotate excruciately slow in that regard.

SBC, Qwest, etc, know who they are.   When they approach the regulatory
agencies they say "We're blah, and we blah blah" without hesitation.   What
does WISPA say when it makes a statement?    Do we "know who we are"?
What's the image we project?

I think this might be helpful to have this discussion, amid our tech
discussion...  Maybe even provoke a bit of introspection for some of us.  I
support WISPA, personally, and financially, as a member.   Yet,  I don't
actually know how WISPA represents me to the public or to the regulators.
Yeah, I know, we have a web page with some pretty good verbiage about
"diverse operators", but when it comes to regulatory issues, we need a
tighter focus than that.

"We are North East Oregon Fastnet, and we provide rural residential
broadband to the areas not served by anyone else"  would work for us.  And
we're focussed on trying to get as close as possible to 99% coverage within
the areas we define as our market.   But I KNOW that's not correct for many
other members.   They're direct competition to a larger entity or entities.
Given that, how does one self-identify WISP's in a way that at least
correctly works for all, or a large majority of us?

Further, this is directed at WISPA leadership...  What is the FCC looking
for us to do?   Do they have a defined role they're expecting us to be
filling?   If they do, should we be attempting to change it, or should we
embrace it?  And by extension, that's all of the federal government.   Well,
the ones that know wireless exists, that is.

North East Oregon Fastnet, LLC 509-593-4061
personal correspondence to:  mark at neofast dot net
sales inquiries to:  purchasing at neofast dot net
Fast Internet, NO WIRES!

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