Look boosts broadband wireless service

Look Communications Inc. this week launched its next-generation of broadband wireless, which will allow the company to offer service bundles and mobile broadband, in the Greater Toronto Area.

Based on the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS), Look’s new offering is more stable and offers better throughput than the company’s previous wireless offerings, said Shawn Dobni, Look’s vice-president of sales.

Look offers broadband wireless services to small businesses that don’t have access to cable or DSL. The company operates in the licensed MDS wireless spectrum. DOCSIS is a standard that was originally developed to enable broadband services over cable networks.

So far, Look has upgraded its wireless networks in Toronto, Concord, Aurora and Barrie — all in Ontario. The firm’s Montreal network is next on the list and should be upgraded by January, 2005, Dobni said.

With its more stable wireless connections, Look will begin offering value-added services to its customers, including hosting options, Dobni said.

“We’re looking at voice services,” he said. “More importantly, with our spectrum, you can get into the environment of mobility. So our future is mobility and when I say that I mean broadband mobility.”

Pricing for Look’s new service will vary depending on speed. The company will offer 0.5Mbps and 1.5Mbps symmetrical broadband and 3Mbps asymmetrical service. The 1.5Mbps service, which gives users 1.5Mbps upload and download speeds, will cost $459 per month based on a one-year contract. Look doesn’t have any real competition in its markets, Dobni said, although the company does occassionally run into wireless broadband firms operating in unlicensed spectrum.

Roberta Fox, president and senior partner of Markham, Ont.-based Fox Group Consulting, said the challenge Look and other companies serving the small and medium business (SMB) market face is educating their customers.

“Getting the news out to SMBs is really critical,” Fox explained. “How are they going to educate SMBs? And then can the SMBs do a ‘try and buy’, because it takes time and effort for SMBs to change providers.”

Bundling services to smaller firms is a good idea, Fox noted, largely because SMBs don’t have dedicated staff dealing with invoices, so having everything on one bill is convenient.

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