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Fixed WiMAX provider Airband is searching for resellers to join its global partner program. The company’s "agent" program, launched in October 2007, has already signed 30 partners.

Zane Long, vice president of indirect channel sales at Airband, said that while the agent program had been in effect for "the last couple years," the company hasn’t focused on growing its indirect business until now. By adding reseller and wholesale partners to its indirect channel network, Long said in the next three to six months, the company plans to at least double the number of partners it has signed since October from 30 partners to at least 60. "This is a very strategic channel for Airband, and we have made monetary, marketing and training investments to develop our channel network."

An agent can sell all of Airband’s services, including its fixed WiMAX, hosted VOIP and the company’s fully managed firewall and VPN, though the services and products remain Airband branded and Airband handles the customer relationship and billing, according to the company. The reseller program, piloted in December and scheduled to be formally announced in March, will allow partners to sell Airband products under their own brand and manage their own customer relationships, billing and product support.

Long said since October, Airband has added channel partner field managers to all of its sales regions, conducts bi-monthly partner training seminars and offers partners an Airband Agent Web Portal with marketing and sales tools. Airband is sold across the United States and the company said it has more than 3,500 customers.

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Debbie Clavadetscher, president and founder of Spriritel, an Airband agent in southern California, said the agent program allows her to bring her clients a cost-effective IP solution very quickly. "We can bring [customers] Internet services sooner, on a much quicker installation timeframe," Clavadetscher said.  

Currently, most of Spiritel’s customers are implementing Airband’s services as a redundant, secondary network, she said, as a backup in the event of a primary network failure. She said a secondary network would ensure that companies could communicate and continue to do business, even if their primary network went down. "Maybe [a customer] already has a primary network but they need a second one, and don’t want to spend the same amount of money on a secondary network," she said. Airband lets her offer customers a secondary network that costs less, is installed quickly and gives them bandwidth flexibility, she said.   

Airband’s fixed WiMAX technology provides high-speed wireless connections over greater distances and at better signal quality than traditional Wi-Fi, said Long.  "Wi-Fi creates Internet ‘hot spots’ in a much smaller range at private and commercial locations; [WiMAX] provides more bandwidth across a larger geographic area and better quality of service," Long said.  

Airband builds numerous "base stations" in specific geographic areas and these send a wireless signal over ranges up to a 5 mile radius, Long said, and the base stations then broadcast and receive data through access points, typically located on top of tall buildings to ensure maximum range. The signal is received by Subscriber Units (SUs) at the customer’s building through either a point-to-multipoint or point-to-point configuration.

Because customers only need to install these subscriber units, installation is much faster than traditional wired or even some wireless services. "In many instances, our services can be up and running in days, so customers don’t have to wait for weeks – even months – to have their services activated," said Long.  

The technology is especially attractive to businesses that may be at the "last mile" of traditional wired high-speed Internet access or businesses that need a constant wireless data signal across a large campus.   

Long said the technology has other advantages including the ability for customers to specify the exact amount of bandwidth they need and the ability to quickly increase bandwidth as needed. "Our service is not restricted to traditional T-1 increments," Long said, which allow for an increase only in 1.5 Mbps increments. "Customers can get just the right amount of bandwidth they need, whether it’s 2 Mbps, 6 Mbps, 12 Mbps up to Gigabit Ethernet speeds. If customers need additional bandwidth, it can be ‘turned up’ in a matter of hours," Long said.