On Tuesday, June 17th, SlashDot linked to this article which is reporting that a private investment group, Network Acquisition Company LLC, is assuming control of what used to be Earthlink’s network in Philadelphia.
When I tried to check out who Network Acquisition Company LLC is, I ran across this article which details the founders as being, Derek Pew, Mark Rupp, and Richard Rasansky. While I don’t recognize either Mark Rupp or Richard Rasansky, Derek Pew was part of the original Wireless Philadelphia team and someone who actually has a background in telecommunications and networking. In fact, Mr. Pew might have been one of the only people associated with the project originally that actually had any experience in this field. It is my understanding that Mr. Pew left Wireless Philadelphia, if I had to guess, out of frustration and I am glad to see that he has reentered this project, this is a man that has the ability to save this project from ruin.
With all that said, I am going to offer some advice to the new owners of this project and hope that the advice is taken in the spirit it is offered.
1.) You’re in for a forklift upgrade, maybe not right away, but sooner than later.
2.) Using the tried and abandoned page view revenue model is not going to work
3.) You get one chance to establish a reputation, if you miss that you are all done.
Let me expand on those three suggestions a little further.
1.) If you believe you are going to fire up the rest of this network and use it for a year or two, I would like to direct you to the SlashDot comments as well as the comment posted by Beth on the WirelessPhiladelphia site.
Both of these users of this network are telling you that their experience was miserable and the old business wisdom that if one customer calls to tell you that you have a problem, there are a hundred more that didn’t call.
I am also going to go on record as saying that the $200 repeater which was mentioned in this article is not going to fix the problem.
2.) With respect to the advertising revenue being a component to your bottom line, the reality is that the commonly discussed method is not even worth the time to set it up. If you need proof of that I would be glad to point your to several network operators that have tried it and they will tell you that you would be better off spending your time walking the streets of Philadelphia and picking up pennies.
That said, this does not mean that there aren’t other ways of generating revenue from advertising. I am working with another network operator on failed citywide wireless project and we have developed a method of leveraging advertising that will generate some healthy revenue.
3.) Reputation – this is something I know you understand and I am sure you realize that you are starting behind the proverbial eight ball picking this network up at the point you are. I think it is well understood that you will be granted a honeymoon period by the city – but that honeymoon will be viewed by a cynical spouse. By banking that you are going to be able to “fix” the existing network or that the remaining portion of the network can be brought on-line with better results than the portion that is already operating, I’m going on record as stating that this will be time wasted.
Good luck Philadelphia, we’re pulling for you.