RealTime IT News

A Cooperative WISP Model

Kyle Ackerman, the CEO of Hutchinson, Minnesota-based Internet service provider Xtratyme, realized that things were shifting to wireless and took his company that direction three years ago. However, embracing wireless and making money at it are two different things.

"We realized along the way you had to put a lot of thought into making it profitable," says Ackerman.

What Xtratyme thought up is the Blueprint America Program, a business plan that has the company partnering with other that already have a large customer base to get high-speed wireless Internet access into communities with little or no broadband, such as rural and outlying suburban areas. Xtratyme provides the infrastructure and equipment, while its partners -- usually cooperative buying groups that are already well known and respected in their communities -- take care of sales and marketing. They split the money.

"We don't do direct marketing ourselves, we offer the program to some that already have customers, such as farm cooperatives," says Ackerman

By partnering with cooperatives, he says, "we immediately get access to almost every structure in a county almost for free. They get the access to water towers, grain silos, etcetera, where antennas can be mounted."

Minnesota-based North Central Service Cooperative (NCSC), a Minnesota based discount purchasing service for hundreds of school districts, non profits, and government agency, announced today that it will provide financial resources to any of its 538 cooperative members that want to utilize Xtratyme's technology. This may put Xtratyme on the road to becoming a major wireless ISP player. NCSC's cooperatives span 38 states.

NCSC wanted to accommodate its member's requests for a way to get high-speed Internet access in their areas. NCSC used World Wide Technology Consultants to evaluate potential partners. In the end the Blueprint America Program from Xtratyme was recommended (since then, WWTC and Xtratyme have merged).

Ackerman says that NCSC is making wireless broadband its number two priority for customers.

"This program provides a business model, a source of funding, and a step-by-step process that will allow interested parties to participate at varying financial levels," says Mike Hajek, director of Cooperative Purchasing for NCSC.

Xtratyme has standardized primary on equipment from Alvarion, formerly Breezecom, which is 80211-based but uses frequency hoping spread spectrum (FHSS) instead of direct-sequence spread spectrum (DSSS). Ackerman says FH work well in a mobile environment, as when driving and during a download you switch seamlessly from one tower to another.