Fixed Wireless Internet Provider (WISP) Speed Performance Up More Than 250% From 2015 to 2019

Fixed Wireless Internet Provider (WISP) Speed Performance Up More Than 250% From 2015 to 2019

Written by June 27, 2019

Fixed wireless is the fastest growing broadband sector, with low barriers to entry for eager entrepreneurs. WISPA (the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association) currently estimates more than 2,000 WISPs of various sizes – from fresh new startups to established providers with large footprints. The landscape is generally made up of small-to-medium-sized businesses with employee counts in the single digits. The average WISP serves around 1,200 customers and, in general, is mostly focused in rural and suburban markets. Given the more rural focus, WISPs have been touted as champions of bridging the digital divide.

Although a WISP allows consumers without wired broadband options to have internet access, the primary drawback of the technology has historically been speed. WISPs have made major strides in this department since 2015, and consumers with the best fixed wireless connections can now reliably and consistently stream video, games and leverage other “high-speed internet” features.

Below is a monthly chart of median (50th percentile) and 90th percentile values of all WISP speed test results from January 2015 through March 2019. Both median and 90th percentile speeds have more than tripled in that time frame with the fastest speed test results achieving a true “broadband” connection. It is important to note that speed test results are impacted by the inclusion of factors outside the WISP’s control, including Wi-Fi performance, device capabilities, and internet backbone performance between client and server. That said, this data shows the customer experience is getting significantly better. Speed test data supplied by M-Lab.

Speed Tests

Perhaps more interesting is that the 90th percentile values of WISP speed test results now rival the median results of wired technologies. The average WISP speed still has a way to go, but there is clearly a major improvement and consumers that have excellent fixed wireless connections are receiving quick performance.

Speed Tests by Technology

Fastest WISPs, Q1 2019

Below are the fastest WISP’s ranked by their 90th percentile across their average speed tests. Customers of these WISPs are receiving blazing fast connections.

Provider 50th Percentile (Median) 90th Percentile Fastest Speed (Advertised)
Netlinx Internet 83.74 Mbps 134.34 Mbps 30 Mbps
Northwest Communications 91.88 Mbps 91.88 Mbps 1,000 Mbps
SandyNet 83.50 Mbps 85.58 Mbps 1,000 Mbps
Speed of Light Broadband 74.86 Mbps 77.34 Mbps 25 Mbps
NextLink 50.59 Mbps 69.72 Mbps 50 Mbps
XS Media 56.68 Mbps 67.03 Mbps 30 Mbps
E-Vergent Wireless 39.63 Mbps 64.71 Mbps 35 Mbps
iWiSP 64.29 Mbps 64.29 Mbps 64 Mbps
WestNet 32.16 Mbps 59.10 Mbps 35 Mbps
Cruzio Internet 49.30 Mbps 58.69 Mbps 100 Mbps

Fastest Cities for WISPs, Q1 2019

Using the same methodology, we also pulled the fastest cities for fixed wireless from the first quarter of this year. The top 10 cities were selected based on their 90th percentile speed ranking of their average tests. Texas and Missouri emerged as fixed wireless leaders, each with more than one city in the top 10.

City 50th Percentile (Median) 90th Percentile
San Mateo, California 423.52 Mbps 581.73 Mbps
Rio Hondo, Texas 485.83 Mbps 485.83 Mbps
Rebersburg, Pennsylvania 27.27 Mbps 363.65 Mbps
Los Fresnos, Texas 231.48 Mbps 338.70 Mbps
Nixa, Missouri 167.04 Mbps 336.18 Mbps
Lowell, Indiana 322.01 Mbps 322.01 Mbps
Ionia, Michigan 280.17 Mbps 280.17 Mbps
Port Isabel, Texas 130.64 Mbps 184.77 Mbps
Bethany, Missouri 176.45 Mbps 178.74 Mbps
Weldon, North Carolina 110.79 Mbps 176.66 Mbps

What is Fixed Wireless?

So, what exactly is “fixed wireless” technology? To put it simply, it is an internet service that travels wirelessly to a subscriber’s fixed location from the provider’s fixed location. This wireless transfer can happen via radio wave, laser bridge, etc. The important thing to note is it is not using a physical “wire” like a copper or fiber cable to make the connection from the WISP to the customer. That said, the WISP offering service itself will rely on an “internet backbone” which is generally a wired service like Cable, DSL, or Fiber. Towers are built on top of the backbone and access points are created to transmit the connection to subscribers. To make the connection, some sort of antenna or dish is usually required to be installed at the subscriber’s location so that the internet service can be received.

Simplified Fixed Wireless Diagram

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