Bandwave delivers speedy Internet access

Bandwave Internet CEO Ben Polson, along with his dad, Dr. Peter

SAN MARTIN
– Since its launch in June, Bandwave Internet has swept through
the region, providing high-speed Internet connections to areas
where conventional dial-up was the only option.
SAN MARTIN – Since its launch in June, Bandwave Internet has swept through the region, providing high-speed Internet connections to areas where conventional dial-up was the only option.

The three-man operation started in Ben Polson’s San Martin home. Its goal? To bring home computer users a high-speed connection without the steep price.

This was the conundrum facing Polson in 1999 shortly after he, his wife Michelle and their two daughters moved to the area. Polson, a 31-year-old computer network and systems consultant, quickly assessed that any option other than a dial-up modem was out of his price range. He looked into starting a wireless Internet Service Provider, but couldn’t find a cost-effective way to start up the business and provide the technology to prospective customers.

Finally, earlier this year, he discovered that while options for high-speed Internet connection had improved, the cost had taken a dive.

He, his brother Matt, and his father, Dr. Peter Polson, started up Bandwave Internet in June with no help from outside investors.

They scoped out areas in Gilroy, San Martin and Morgan Hill that weren’t already covered by cable or DSL and began offering residents and businesses service.

To bring high-speed Web content to a resident’s home, the computer connects to Bandwave’s wireless modem, which is attached to a 10-inch-wide receiver dish via a cable. The dish is mounted unobtrusively to the house’s exterior. The dish communicates wirelessly to an antenna located at about 30 feet above the ground. The antenna serves as the access point for the service. A local access point provides Internet coverage for those living within about a two-mile radius while a long-range point provides coverage for up to 10 miles or more.

With every installation, Polson said aesthetics is foremost in mind.

“We’re very concerned about the quality of the installation,” he said. “We try to make it look as clean and professional as possible.”

The Polsons keeps a digital photo journal of installations to learn from and continue to improve them.

Prices start at $49 per month with installation and equipment, including the wireless modem, antenna cables and connectors, costing about $400. This package includes 384 kilobytes per second (or 10 times the speed of a dial-up modem), one e-mail account and space for a Web site. Packages that include faster service with more features go up incrementally to $129 per month.

All installations include a free site visit, and customers aren’t locked into contracts, Polson said. Referral and promotional discount packages are available.

Polson said since the company has come online, he has easily found customers who are clamoring for a brisker connection.

“We’ve had well over 100 requests for service since June,” Polson said.

To date, Bandwave has outfitted 30 homes, with 30 more pending. An additional 50 homes are slated to be serviced within the next six months once access points are established.

The company is eyeing six locations throughout Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin where it hopes to move into next.

“Our goal is to get these six access points within the next six months, so by the second quarter we have absolute coverage through the valley here,” Polson said.

Polson said future plans include providing service in Hollister, but a timetable hasn’t yet been set.

Currently, Bandwave has most of the region from Gilroy through just south of Coyote Valley covered with the exception of pockets that don’t allow for access because of the land’s topography.

While Bandwave does have its competitors – namely South Valley Internet, which also provides wireless Internet access – Polson said the company offers something the others may not: personalized service.

Polson himself knows all the clients because he installs each system personally. Earlier this week, after an unplanned outage knocked out Internet access for some clients, Polson called each one to alert them to the problem before fixing it.

“I try to put myself in my customers’ shoes and ask myself what would I appreciate as a customer for this service,” he said.

Polson said he is confident of Bandwave’s longevity, pointing to its business plan that demands that the marketplace set the pace of the company’s growth rather than adopting a “build it and they will come” mentality.

“In this time of uncertainty, it’s all too easy for businesses to disappear without thinking through their business models appropriately,” Polson said.

To reach Bandwave Internet, located at 305 Vineyard Town Center #218 in Morgan Hill, call 686-WAVE or visit www.bandwave.net.

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