• United States

Escape from Verizon

Mar 22, 20043 mins
BroadbandUnified CommunicationsVerizon

When a move interrupts Avalon Publishing’s T-1 service, TowerStream wireless broadband saves the day

When a move interrupts Avalon Publishing’s T-1 service, TowerStream wireless broadband saves the day

Jordan Friedman, sole network administrator at Avalon Publishing in New York, wants to thank Verizon for its bad service. “Because of it, I found a better and cheaper solution for my T-1 data access,” he says.

Avalon has 80 employees split evenly between offices in New York and the Bay Area. Last August, the company moved its downtown Manhattan office north 30 blocks to Chelsea. Six weeks before, Verizon had accepted Avalon’s move order, but when the time came, Verizon wasn’t ready. In fact, it wasn’t ready until five weeks after the move was complete – three months after Avalon placed the order.

TowerStream provides high-speed Internet access through fixed wireless broadband. Using an early version of WiMax — the high-speed wireless protocol defined by the IEEE 802.16 standard –TowerStream provides line-of-sight networking within a 30 mile radius.

Friedman had heard of TowerStream, which had just launched service in New York and had a line-of-sight tower about 5 miles away. He made contact and TowerStream did a site survey. On a Friday afternoon, Friedman signed the contract; by Wednesday morning, TowerStream had Avalon’s wireless T-1 up and running.

Three business days for TowerStream, almost three months for Verizon. Want to know the funniest part of this story? Friedman’s new office is only 200 feet from a Verizon central office. He could buy an Ethernet patch cable to reach the Verizon equipment.

That’s one of the huge advantages for fixed wireless broadband providers: speed of client hookup. Once the towers are in place, adding a client transceiver and network connection equipment (essentially a cable/DSL modem) takes only a few hours. In fact, TowerStream provided emergency T-1 service in three hours for a software convention in Boston’s Hynes Auditorium after its fiber connections were cut.

Another advantage is price: In New York, TowerStream costs about half that of T-1 service.

Because the ILEC voice provider that relies on Verizon’s lines couldn’t get Avalon’s requested service up in time for the move, it gave the company a free 1M bit/sec DSL line for backup. In six months using TowerStream, Friedman has never had to use it.

“TowerStream sends me e-mails about firmware upgrades on the equipment on our end,” he says. “So for two minutes in the middle of the night, I don’t have a connection. Every other minute, I have a connection with a guarantee that tests on the network will return in a certain number of milliseconds or less. Verizon never gave me that.”

Avalon’s landlord was a bit nervous about adding another antenna to her roof until she saw the TowerStream transceiver: an eight-inch square plastic unit resembling a personal pizza box. No problem. If there had been, Avalon could have mounted the transceiver inside (as many customers do) and pointed it out the window for the same level of service.

The WiMax standard also allows for non-line-of-sight connections but only within 2 or 3 miles. Technically, WiMax can provide signals up to 31 miles, but TowerStream puts a ring of towers around each city it serves to keep connections under 10 miles.

The time Friedman used to spend worrying about his data service he now spends fighting with his voice supplier and Verizon techs supporting the supplier, he says.

And when TowerStream offers a voice solution?

“I’ll be first in line,” he says.