Move the Router, Move the Paradigm - Page 3

By Alex Goldman

February 17, 2004

Partnerships for profit

With demand looming large, Firetide wants to concentrate on the making the boxes, leaving others to deploy them. "We want to team up with integrators, and not be the integrator, even though we have integration experience from our testing," says Nassi.

On February 10, 2004, Firetide announced its first major nationwide distributor, Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Connectronics. For its demonstration projects, Firetide also forged relationships with various integrators, and those relationships are ongoing.

"We're just starting to explore the dialogue with WISPs," says Cardillo. "We want to make sure we have the right solution." The company is showcasing its solution to the major aggregators like Pronto and Airpath, and it is pursuing technology partnerships to add technology the company does not posess.

To that end, the company linked up with Cranite Systems (see Mesh Meets Security). Cranite provides a security infrastructure and works well with LDAP and active directory databases (for more, see The Granite Wall of Safety), which would be vital for billing users on a Firetide mesh.

The company is looking at adding additional features that WISPs will find useful, but cannot talk about potential partnerships at this time. "Billing, per-user features, and location-based services are all outside our purview," says Nassi. Another company would need to provide them.

Meanwhile, the company is seeking more Premier and Authorized partners to distribute its products. The two programs have different requirements.

Authorized partners (the partnership with lower requirements) get marketing support and some training, as well as level 2 discounts. Premier partners make a significant revenue commitment and get even greater marketing support, training, and discounts.

Cardillo says she hopes to have 50 or 60 Premier partners by the end of 2004, starting out focused on North America, but expanding to Europe and Asia by Q4 of 2004. Since each Premier partner will bring with it several dozen Authorized partners, Cardillo expects Firetide to have several hundred Authorized partners by the end of 2004.

The mood at Firetide is optimistic, and it's not just the Hawaii weather. Nassi is using phrases like "paradigm shift" that we thought had disappeared at the end of the boom. "Some of us from Apple heard the phrase 'paradigm shift' over and over again and got sick of it," he says. "But I think there is one here. Think about what you can do with an Ethernet jack you can put anywhere without having to wire it into a backhaul."

Nassi says he admires Bill Gurley and his newsletter Above the Crowd. In his latest edition, from February 2, 2004, Gurley says that any problems with Wi-Fi will be solved. "Those that promote the weaknesses of the standard are merely writing the feature list for future innovation on top of the standard."

Gurley expects Wi-Fi to become as any other commonly accepted standard. "802.11, or one of its backwardly compatible descendants, will dominate the wireless communications sector over the next 10 years the same way that the x86 architecture dominates computing and that Ethernet dominates networking."

Gurley does not see a future without proprietary standards; he sees a future where proprietary standards overlay an accepted, though flawed, standard. He sees room for Firetide to thrive in an increasingly Wi-Fi world.

Gurley admits that there is a lot of excitement about wireless in general and Wi-Fi in particular, but he says the excitement is not overstated. "802.11 is indeed under-hyped," he concludes.

The Firetide units are available as of February 6, 2004, for a list price of $799 each (for "quantity one").

Reprinted from ISP-Planet

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