AirFiber spreads outChange is in the air.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Change is in the air.
Since breaking off from Telephone Associates as an independent company in January, AirFiber has grown to encompass all of Superior and a good portion of Duluth, from Gary through downtown.
The internet service provider covers South Range and Patzau in rural Douglas County and North Ridge Estates north of Two Harbors, Minn. The company has more than 400 customers and installations are booked a week in advance, according to director of network services Shawn Hanson. And they’ve only scratched the surface.
“We don’t have two customers on the same block,” Hanson said.
Plans are in the works to expand the service to Hermantown and Virginia, Minn., within the next six weeks. Poplar is being scoped as a possible site and Hanson said he’s eyeing Bayfield, Ashland and Washburn for future expansions. AirFiber’s plans don’t stop there.
“We’d like to see a push toward city-wide wi-fi for the business district,” in Superior, similar to that in Duluth’s Canal Park, Hanson said.
AirFiber got its feet wet by providing portable wi-fi service for the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival in August. Extending wi-fi over Superior’s business district would ensure blanket coverage for smart phones and iPads, thus preventing overage charges and lost connections. All it would take, Hanson said, is a few available rooftops to spread the signal.
Although the business is extending its reach, the focus of AirFiber is serving current customers.
“This is where we started, this is home,” Hanson said of Superior.
AirFiber is a niche product, for now. The business provides internet service only, with price quotes listed on its website and a promise to provide the same size pipeline for information coming in and going out.
People who bundle their landline phone, cable TV and internet service don’t fit the AirFiber demographic.
“We’re not going to get into bundling,” Hanson said. They may not have to. Preliminary results from a 2011 National Health Interview Survey indicate that 31 percent of American homes have only cell phones. Meanwhile, the number of people who watch TV via computers keeps growing.
The Nielsen company said in a report issued last week that three-quarters of the estimated five million homes that don’t get TV signals over the airways or through cable, satellite or telecommunications companies have televisions anyway. Many of these homes just use their TVs for games or get programming through DVDs or services like Netflix or Apple TV.
If people want AirFiber service in their area, they just have to ask. The company keeps track of calls for service. If enough people from a certain area request AirFiber, they could get it. That’s how Hermantown got in line for service, Hanson said.
For more information on AirFiber or to make a service request, call (715) 395-6150 or check the website at http://myairfiber.com.