Wireless provider boosts Toronto service

Fixed wireless data provider TeraGo Networks recently completed a network expansion that allows the firm to serve customers in downtown Toronto and several suburbs north and west of the city.

The company, which serves up data connections ranging from 1.5Mbps to 155Mbps, already has operations in a number of major Canadian markets, including Calgary, London, Ont. and Winnipeg.

Although TeraGo competes with copper- and fibre-based services from incumbent carriers in some city cores, the company’s main goal is to serve medium businesses and enterprise branch offices in suburban areas which have trouble getting access to affordable high-speed connections, said Bryan Boyd, TeraGo’s president and CEO.

Applications Solutions, a maker of warehouse management software systems in Markham, Ont., has been running a 1.5Mbps connection from TeraGo for approximately four months.

Nojan Emad, the company’s CTO, said he’s pleased with the TeraGo service. Emad decided to go with TeraGo, because there weren’t many other affordable high-speed options in Markham.

“Markham is the technology capital of Canada,” he said. “But unfortunately you often can’t get a decent line in there, because of the distance from the central office. Basically all you can get is a T-1 and the prices for those are huge.”

Emad used the TeraGo connection to replace a DSL line. Applications Solutions uses the link to troubleshoot customer servers and desktops, so the line is critical to the company, Emad noted.

The firm also has a T-1 it uses as a backup, but Emad is considering replacing the T-1 connection with a DSL line.

“I don’t see any major issues with TeraGo,” he said. And, he added, the TeraGo service costs about 50 per cent less than a T-1 line.

TeraGo operates in the licensed 24GHz and 38GHz wireless bands. The firm installs its wireless gear on the rooftops of multi-tenant buildings and connects to customers via Ethernet handoffs running through the building risers.

The Toronto-area expansion gives TeraGo a counter-rotating ring, improving the reliability of the network, Boyd said.

Most TeraGo customers are either DSL users looking to upgrade their bandwidth and reliability, or T-1 customers looking to cut their data costs, Boyd said. He estimated that TeraGo’s services sell for about 25 per cent to 30 per cent less than comparable wireline-based offerings.

Another advantage TeraGo offers customers is bandwidth flexibility. Customers can order bandwidth in 1Mbps increments without having to pay for expensive new interfaces, Boyd said.

TeraGo doesn’t promise the holy grail of “five nines” (99.999 per cent) reliability, but it does have a service level agreement offering 99.9 per cent reliability.

Emad said he was slightly concerned about the robustness of the TeraGo service, especially during harsh weather conditions. But after going through two storms, including an ice storm, he said he’s a lot less worried.

The meltdown in the technology market has not been kind to fixed wireless providers. High-profile U.S. fixed wireless players Winstar and Teligent both had to go through bankruptcy restructurings.

But Boyd is confident TeraGo can avoid a similar fate, because the company has a business model focused solely on selling high-speed IP data connections, unlike Winstar and Teligent, which also tried to break into the voice market.

“We’re not trying to be all things to all people,” Boyd said. “We’re not trying to handle either long-distance or local phone service.”