My name is Steve Fortmann and I run Paladin Wireless. We are a local Internet Service provider in Royston Georgia and provide service to hundreds of homes in Royston, Canon, Vanna, Goldmine, Holly Springs, Sandy Cross, and parts of Carnesville. Currently our network covers about 80 square miles.
When my wife Prize Fortmann and I moved to Royston we were shocked to find out that high speed internet was 1.5Mbps x .2Mbps. Better yet, we were paying over $80 each month for AT&T’s DSL. My wife and I homeschool and to even be able to do this we had to set up two accounts and then channel bond them together with a CISCO device (not true channel bonding but more like load balancing). So $160 each month for 3Mbps of data that was unreliable at best.
We own an IT/Web Services company (Pure Web - www.purewd.com
) and our office, located in downtown Royston, had UVerse and we were able to get almost 12Mbps down and .6 to .8Mbps up. Even so we couldn’t run our VOIP phone system and had to rely on AT&T to provide (POTS) phone service that was costly. Our Uverse routinely went down at 3PM each day, or when it rained, or when a train or large truck would go by. If my developers were uploading a file to a website or my IT tech was accessing a computer remotely they would get knocked off. It became ordinary for us to drive to places with good internet to be able to upload large files or download large files. We couldn't even house our web servers as we did in Atlanta and had to find costly collocation facilities that could provide the needed bandwidth.
In the meantime my growing frustration with AT&T was seeding the idea of searching for another provider. I called TruVista and NGN to see if we couldn’t get them to service our office. Neither one could. Back in my Air Force days I played with computers and knew a little bit about RF and I started to research building a WISP. I contacted people who run successful WISPS in other parts of the country and met with product reps and product distributors.
What I found was amazing! The technology exists right here in the USA and it is available right now! The holdup is the expense. We spent most of 2014 and 2015 conducting surveys and meeting people (lots and lots of people). We spoke to parents, students, business owners, and our elected officials to see what their experience was and if they would consider a homegrown alternative.
At the same time my IT techs from Pure Web started attending classes and seminars to become familiar with the technology. We set up a new company, Paladin Wireless, and hired installers and field techs. Once October 2015 rolled around we installed our first assets and began testing! October to December saw our test group of customers, these were line of sight, non-line of sight, and near line of sight installations.
Some of these links are incredible! We have a 6.8 mile link that is near line of sight passing 35Mbps x 28Mbps! We also have a few complete non-line of sight
links that are several miles out and passing 15Mbps x 4Mbps! Once we felt comfortable with the results and our crews were all trained up we went into production on January 1 and since then our growth has been amazing!
We have raised and spent a TON of money to get here but we have worked with the people that live here and we are solving a problem and making life better. We have turned on customers who have never had internet available to them. We have met people who have been on a waiting list for 6 years or more
waiting on AT&T to bring them internet!
I am my own customer too, as are all Paladin Wireless employees.
Our agreement with our customers is this:
- No Data Caps.
- No contracts.
- Your price will never change as long as you are a customer, even when we raise the speeds for our plans your price will stay the same.
- We will not oversell our circuits.
If you sign up for a 10x2 the system takes that out of the data budget. It is dedicated to you. Now, sometimes do customers not get 10x2? Yes, but when that happens our system sends out an alert notifying our technicians. Furthermore we utilize several systems that provide in depth reporting on the health of the link.
Being a small company we live and die by our reputation and our customers are the best indication of what our service is like. We would not be in business if we couldn’t do what we say we will do and primarily what we want to do is make it better. We want to invest in the local infrastructure, we want to hire local talent, and provide a service that you can be proud of. With all their billions of dollars the major providers aren’t concerned with rural areas and they just don't care.
We can fix this.
It took our community coming together and working together to make something happen. We met with one another and got a dialog going and we went beyond the talking and actually did something about it. If you would like to meet face to face I invite you or whomever to stop by our office at 1040 Bowersville Street, Royston Ga. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 706-948-3136. We would love an opportunity to talk and to allay any concerns you have.