EyeForWireless: The Future Of Pure Play WISPs

A pure play WISP is defined as a wireless ISP that is not also a telco, nor an old-fashioned dial-up or wireline ISP. The most tangible information from the panel came from Canadian WISP Fatport’s CEO, Sean O’Mahoney, who (as he usually does at conferences) dished out some REAL business metrics from a WiFi network operator. As Sean said, perhaps armed with this data, analysts and strategy types can base their business projections on reality. So, here’s the skinny: 1) Fatport, Canada’s larges WISP has 6700 registered customers, with 30 new paying customers per day, and 1.85 visits/hotspot/day. He says he thinks this comparable with T-Mobile/Starbucks; 2) the average session 1.1 hours; 3) the average ARPU is $9.80; 4) Fatport has 170 Hotspot locations; 5) He can’t generate enough revenue to break even on Hotspots alone, so he has found other revenue streams: 5a) Sells wholesale to other providers (neutral host); 5b) License their system technology; OEM to Value Added Resellers who sells in to niche markets like hospitals, golf courses; 6) Plans to be profitable in Q2 2005; 7) Sees 20% annual growth in usage;. Other new business ideas discussed on the panel was Machine-to-machine WiFi, where not just people will connect, but machines will use the network, such as a vending machine reporting inventory levels.

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