WISPs, Meet Your Police Department

By Alex Goldman

February 01, 2005

One WISP in a major metro area found that all the doors opened after it began to serve those selfsame guardians.

The weather in the Boston area has not been the best recently, but Belinda Vandervoort is in high spirits. "The snow is beautiful. I guess you have to enjoy it to be able to put up with it," she says.

Vandervoort is the marketing director for Community WISP, which serves business customers in the greater Boston area and also does consulting and implementation for private network owners across New England. The company, founded in mid-2002, has grown quickly.

Last year, high profile events included the Democratic National Convention (DNC), the Head of the Charles Regatta, the Red Sox victory parade, and the Patriots' victory parade. The company may get to provide wireless video surveillance for another Patriot victory parade this year if the team wins on Sunday.

During the DNC, local TV news station WBZ was not allowed to fly helicopters for traffic reports, so Community WISP provided networked TV cameras to keep the coverage live. Since then, the WISP has been allowed some WBZ tower space.

The security of security

It's a great time to be respected for your ability to provide a secure Internet connection. "There's a lot of homeland security money out there," says Vandervoort. "They need state of the art solutions. They need to be flexible, easy to deploy, and survive in all weather situations."

The company uses Motorola Canopy, and says the Motorola name is helpful in these cases. "Community WISP is a mouthful. Motorola they get right away!"

A whole line of security solutions started with the Boston Police Department. "It has led to a number of introductions," says Vandervoort. "Even though Motorola Canopy equipment is not certified for public safety in the unlicensed space, that hasn't affected customer adaptation. They know it's as secure and reliable, which is what they are really concerned about!"

An early project for the police has been resold to other customers since. "We had built a portable wireless surveillance system for the Boston Police Department," Vandervoort explains. It was easy to adapt to the security needs of the DNC and the sports parades.

Focus on applications

The company strives to sell more than just bits to customers. It prefers to sell solutions (there's a "solutions" tab on the company's home page). Solutions include being the second, backup line for an enterprise in case the main line goes out. "We can say that the same backhoe won't take out our wireless line," she says. "We can, to some extent, beat outages."

The company has a growing line of business in a vertical that consists of helping hotels and universities roll out free wireless access. "Students expect free Wi-Fi now," says Vandervoort. "They even expect itliterallyin the laundry rooms."

For the future, the company is interested in deploying even more applications and solutions across its network.


Community WISP does not do it all alone. The company works with Exeter, N.H.-based hotspot provider Single Digits. "They're a great bunch of guys," says Vandervoort. "They're a real pleasure to work with."

Community WISP also partners with Newton, Mass.-based Galaxy Internet, an ISP which, founded in 1995, was one of the pioneers in the business.

Reprinted from ISP Planet.

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