Accel Networks wants to expands its small cellular data service in Canada, saying it’s a better alternative to T1 and DSL. An industry analyst isn’t sure about the pricing

Fixed wireless provider wants to expand in Canada

A U.S.-based fixed wireless provider wants to grow its operations in Canada, offering cellular data and VoIP service to retail business chains.

“Right now we have a very small footprint of customer sites in Vancouver,” says Mark Gianinni (pictured), CEO and co-founder of Accel Networks. “One of our top priorities in 2012 is to really expand our presence and our business relationships in Canada.”

Accel, headquartered in St. Petersburg, Fla., is a virtual service provider that has contracts in the U.S. with AT&T Inc., Sprint-Nextel Corp. and Verizon Wireless. What it provides are proprietary antenna systems that fire data from their point of sales or inventory systems over 3G or 4G networks from businesses to the carriers. The service is an alternative to T1, MPLS and DSL connectivity.

In Canada, Accel has a contract with Telus Communications Corp. for serving customers in B.C. But to expand here it’s looking for partnerships.

“We’re looking for a distributor that can help us penetrate the Canadian market,” Gianinni said – perhaps another carrier, a manufacturer of cellular modems or a maker of other electronic goods.

One lever, he said, is Accel’s just-announced Maestro antenna system for 3G and 4G networks. Usually, Accel sells a US$150 a month per site bundled service that includes data access, a modem or router, and its antenna and monitoring technology.

However, Maestro is a standalone-product that can be re-sold by a carrier. Gianinni said that at a wireless conference in Miami he pitched Maestro to several representatives from Rogers Communications Inc. No deal was signed.

Maestro, which will start selling on March 1, is priced in the United States at US$350 per site, plus a monthly US$15 maintenance charge. Maestro automatically evaluates the data link every two minutes and sends analytics to customers. In addition, it can link to applications like Salesforce.com for asset tracking.

Maestro’s link monitoring will allow Accel to offer service level agreement to customers, Gianinni said, including guarantees of 99.9 per cent availability, download speeds of up to 7.5 megabits a second and latency that doesn’t exceed 200 milliseconds.

Meanwhile, later this month Accel will broaden its portfolio by offering voice-over-IP service.

One of Accel’s advantages, Gianinni said, is its ability to install its system faster than competitors. In the U.S., he said, it can take up to six weeks for a business to get a landline installed. Accel can be up and running in five business days, he said.

Iain Grant, managing director of SeaBoard Group, a Montreal-based telecommunications consultancy, welcomed word of a possible new competitor. However, he said Accel’s U.S. pricing isn’t competitive with DSL offerings here.

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