"Whhaazzuuhhp" with Broadband Wireless?

FRAMINGHAM (04/18/2000) - Unless you've been working too hard, you've heard a few funky fellows muttering this on a TV beer commercial or heard guys in your office screaming it to each other between cubicles. If you are really with it, you may have seen the Superfriends e-mail with Batman, Superman and even Wonder Woman pondering, "Whhhhaaaazzzzzzuuuuuuhhhhhhp?"

You may think this sophomoric salutation is about beer. But our crack TeleChoice research team found out that everyone is actually asking, "What is up?" with broadband wireless. Our team reports there is a lot "up" with broadband wireless, and you should start paying attention because this market is finally about to live up to its hype.

The biggest thing up is the share prices of some of the major players (granted, before the Nasdaq's most recent troubles). Two of the biggest gainers over the past 12 months are Netro and Nextlink, up more than 900% and 400%, respectively. Netro, an equipment maker, has only been public since August.

Others, such as WinStar Communications Inc. and Teligent Inc., are up over 150%. Their lofty valuations are not for their current revenue streams, but for the tremendous possibilities broadband wireless has to provide substantial chunks of bandwidth for a fraction of the landline cost.

Remember when we were teenagers, the hip phrase was, "What's going down?" In the broadband wireless space, "what's going down" is the cost of customer premises equipment. CPE costs for wireless service are rapidly dropping and are now cracking the $1,000 mark. MCI Communications Corp. is currently testing its broadband wireless system and estimates CPE cost around $300 to $400 per subscriber.

Also going down could be your network access bills. Broadband wireless providers are pricing 15% to 40% lower than their land-based competitors for comparable service. They can also install service much faster because they avoid the incumbent local exchange carrier's slow process of installing or provisioning circuits. One provider of broadband wireless, Tachyon, will have you up and running within two weeks from the time you place your order.

The final element that is "up" can be your network's redundancy. If it is critically important for you to be always connected to the Internet or WAN, don't run the risk of "backhoe failure." A wireless connection never succumbs to this dreaded outage because it has no wired connections for the hard hats to cut. This makes broadband wireless an ideal disaster recovery solution for an enterprise that makes its living from an Internet connection.

A broadband wireless provider will target you if you are a midsize business or location. That is, your bandwidth needs are greater than a digital subscriber line or T-1, but less than a DS-3. If you are not on a fiber ring (like 95% of all businesses), wireless is a great way to get a bunch of bandwidth.

Briere is CEO and Heckart is president of TeleChoice, a market strategy consultancy for the telecommunications industry. They can be reached at dbriere@telechoice.com and checkart@ telechoice.com.

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