Starving the Beast

The best way to deal with bad behavior is to stop paying the players who are either not delivering what you want or are treating you poorly and either support the ones who are doing a better job or start your own.

My own personal example is the way that the independent ISPs were treated by the phone/cable companies.   I was front and center at that bloodbath, watching my DSL margins and customers taken away when the telcos decided to wipe out competition in DSL.    The independent providers were forced into little niches and the bigger ones consolidated or were wiped out when they couldn’t compete.   All the “regulation” in the world was not enough to save the CLECs and independent ISPs, and more regulation will have the same result – it won’t help.    Net Neutrality advocacy is a crybaby tactic – we want our open Internet WAAAHHH!!! – and expecting government regulation to resolve the problem is a delusion shared by many smart and otherwise thoughtful people who think that government has the power to make a difference on this subject.

The big players are better at gaming the system, so the best way to deal with it is to play a different game.    The way to kill the beast is to starve the beast.   Take the money out of the system.   Instead of whining about how they treat you, punch them right in the face!

When I started my WISP in 2004, I made a conscious effort to completely avoid any long term contracts or dependencies on the telcos.   Even when it meant building 120 miles worth of microwave backhaul to break out of a telco “hostage situation”, or watching a customer base of 800 in one area dwindle down to 100 over 18 months.   Putting in the extra work to build my own infrastructure and keep revenues in house limited my gross revenue potential but meant that my margins were higher and that I was no longer dependent on companies that wanted to see me fail.   Within 12 months, I was making more net revenue from 100 customers on my own fixed wireless infrastructure than I made with 800 customers on dialup and DSL over telco copper.

So lets do a little thought exercise.   There are about 3 million WISP customers in the US.  Average customer revenue per month is about $50.    That is $150 million dollars a month taken out of the pockets of the telcos/cablecos.    That is $1.8 billion a year.   WISPA coordinated lobbying efforts in 2012 took $55 million in CAF funding out of the pockets of CenturyLink alone.   Now CenturyLink is targeting WISPs not because we are taking their customers (been doing that for years) but because their government funding is at risk.

I relish every opportunity I get to take money away from the telcos after what they did to me and so many of my colleagues.  Helping create a trade association and being part of an industry that is taking BILLIONS of dollars away from the telcos makes me very proud.


2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. David Francis,

    I appreciate your thinking! Limiting big corporate influence seems a better solution in every field of business I can think of, rather than trying to a get any government to solve the problem.

  2. Kirsten,

    I have had the pleasure and displeasure of having WISP service, in the burbs (chaska) and rural (MVTV Winthrop). My chaska experience was a disappointment. The neighborhood relay stations are situated too far away from most residences, the setbacks cause loss of signal as do interference from structures and trees. There were no offerings or availability of an exterior antenna at the curb which would improve signal. I signed up twice but wishing it to be better was a disappointment and my work at home business required reliability and speeds up to 3MB. I was forced to deal with Comcast and keep plugging in nickels to the horrible company with bad service and worse customer service. Then I moved for a short time out to Winthrop, MVTV set me up with a receiver at the end of my drive facing the tower and I had excellent access and speed at a reasonable price. Why cant we have this in the metro and put the big greedys out of business? it is technologically possible yes?

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