WISPs Bring Affordable Broadband to Rural Health Care Providers

By Alex Goldman

October 02, 2008

IDT Spectrum is reaching out to wireless ISPs (WISPs) that might be interested in using its spectrum for bids on the Rural Health Care Initiative.

IDT Spectrum has a map of its holdings on the company Web site (not shown on the map: holdings in Alaska, Hawaii, and even territories, such as Guam and Puerto Rico). Holdings vary in size from 200 MHz of 39 GHz spectrum to over 600 MHz. At 28 GHz, its holdings are as large as 1,150 MHz in some areas.

"We have 1,324 licenses covering every inch of America," says Michael Rapaport, president of IDT Spectrum. "In fact, we have the equivalent of coverage of every inch five times over."

IDT Spectrum is reaching out to wireless ISPs that are interested in using that spectrum. Right now, IDT Spectrum is working on bids on the Rural Health Care Initiative. The initiative is run by the Universal Service Administrative Company.

Rapaport explains that the USAC has put rural hospitals into 69 regional groups. The idea is that they will standardize procedures and equipment, achieving cost savings. Rapaport says that in those groups, about 3,500 facilities can be reached with his company's spectrum portfolio (Alaska is out of reach).

"It's a new process, and we've bid on a few projects already," says Rapaport. Of the 69 groups, only a few have issued RFPs so far, so there are many more still to come.

IDT Spectrum would like to work with a local or regional ISP, either as a partner or as a provider of turnkey bandwidth. In return, the local or regional ISP would deliver connections and infrastructure that would help win the bid.

So is that IDT Spectrum's businss, managing a spectrum portfolio? "Our skills are in network management and links," says Rapaport. "But we do have a very impressive spectrum portfolio."

Rapaport explains that the company offers a turnkey product which includes designing, installing, maintaining, monitoring, and emergency repair of links.

He says the company uses only the best backhaul equipment. "Our links can last ten to twelve years with very low maintenance. We use suppliers with very good warranties."

The licenses often cover large areas (BEAs), but IDT Spectrum can deliver an exclusive lease on a portion of the area for which it has a license.

So what's the process in making a bid in this program? "We put together a very strong group to maximize our chances of winning the bid. We work with an ISP, going over the advantages of them joining our team or leading an RFP on a specific project. It's an opportunity for an ISP to work with us, and it's an opportunity for us because there are only so many RFPs we can go after on our own."

Other opportunities

The Rural Health Care Initiative is IDT's latest project, but Rapaport says he also wants WISPs to know about the company's spectrum portfolio because it can open up new opportunities for those constricted by the phone company. "We have so many licenses," he says. "We want to alert the community about the availability of licenses."

Covad recently signed an agreement [.pdf] with IDT Spectrum to use its 29 GHz portfolio in San Francisco. In its press release, David McMorrow, General Manager of Covad Wireless, said, "The partnership with IDT Spectrum will allow us to improve operational efficiency by offering a more scalable broadband alternative that is highly reliable and priced competitively. It will also lead to accelerated installation times, improving the overall experience for our customers."

Rapaport says the company also has 3.65 GHz licenses, so if you're interested in them, contact IDT Spectrum.

Article courtesy of ISP-Planet.



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