TowerStream Makes West Coast Moves

By Colin C. Haley

November 10, 2004

UPDATED: The fixed-wireless broadband provider begins building in Los Angeles and tabs San Francisco as its next market.

UPDATED: TowerStream, a fast-growing provider of fixed-wireless broadband service for businesses, said it has established its first point-of-presence in Los Angeles atop the Aon Center.

In addition, the company tabbed San Francisco as the next market in its national expansion. TowerStream currently offers service in Boston, Chicago, New York, and Providence/Newport, R.I., and is on track to enter a new city every quarter.

"The Aon Center is the second-tallest building in L.A.," Jeff Thompson, COO and cofounder of TowerStream, told

The Los Angeles network is active, and customers can sign up for the service now. TowerStream will build additional POPs in strategic points around the city, with the goal of offering coverage within at least a 10-mile radius around the city.

In San Francisco, service should be up and running by the end of the first quarter, Thompson said.

The company vies for business customers against regional telecoms SBC and Verizon . TowerStream stresses cost, customer service and reliability in pitching new customers.

Since the service isn't routed through the incumbents' central offices, power failures like last year's blackout in the East and fiber cuts caused by construction errors don't interrupt service.

So far, TowerStream has grown through direct sales of its $500-per-month T1 service. However, the company is developing into a channel program as it looks to grow nationwide.

It's also eyeing partnerships with several major Voice over IP providers, Thompson said. Its technology, which is built on emerging WiMAX standards, is capable of prioritizing voice traffic.

The Middletown, R.I.-based company, privately held and funded through friends and family, is cash-flow positive. It has 33 employees.

"We know if we want to go much faster, we may need to raise some money," said Thompson, who added that there is no shortage of potential investors.

TowerStream was the first service provider to join the WiMAX Forum, an industry group developing standards for the wireless broadband technology.

Its current technology includes several of the features that will appear in the first WiMAX shipments. Additionally, TowerStream will be one of the first service providers to offer WiMAX-certified solutions nationally, the company said.

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