Competitive service provider PAETEC (news, filings) announced an expansion of its fixed wireless offerings yesterday. They now offer the service across their serving area, which presumably means the McLeodUSA and USLEC footprints as well. I hadn’t known that PAETEC had a fixed wireless offering, but then again I hadn’t actually looked either. The capability derives from their acquisition of MPX Wireless. That was something of a stealth M&A, if nothing else then because today’s PR and a brief quote in the Q2/08 conference call, I can’t even bring it up on a Google search. Ah well, maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places.
Fixed wireless serves two functions for PAETEC. First, it allows them to offer a physically diverse connection for those users sensitive to disruptions in their connection, i.e. business continuity. And secondly, it is looming as one of the ways they can alleviate their last mile dependence on the ILECs and reduce access costs. But it’s not as if they are sitting on a pile of spectrum or plan to offer wireless backhaul to mobile carriers. The effort (as far as I know) is focused tightly on serving their existing customer base, and of course fixed wireless for such applications has limits – there’s only so many cases where it is the best option. They can shave some costs here and there, which is of course good, yet it won’t change the game.
On the other hand, fixed wireless is one of the ways some are looking to use Broadband Stimulus funds outside the big cities. Might PAETEC’s timing of this service expansion be related to a plan to go after some government money? Hmmm…
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