by CIO Staff

Fixed Wireless to the Rescue

Feb 15, 20022 mins

At 5:22 p.m. on the afternoon of Sept. 11, Bill Chen, director of network architecture for Everest Broadband, watched as the TV showed the horror of 7 World Trade Center’s collapse. A minute later, monitoring software at the Fort Lee, N.J.-based Internet service provider’s Network Operations Center starting generating a slew of network failure alarms. The T1 and T3 lines the company leased from Verizon and other carriers to connect its customers to the public WAN ran through the fallen building and now lay, severed, beneath tons of rubble. Some of Everest’s clients, small to midsize companies in large, multitenant buildings were left without Internet connections.

At first, Chen says, Everest thought they could simply wait until the lines were recovered?everyone had higher priorities. But soon “we realized that if this takes a long time we are going to lose our customers,” he says. Laying a new T1 line would require permits and street work, and Verizon had placed a moratorium on new orders anyway. But Everest already had fixed wireless antennae extending its LAN between the two buildings on its Fort Lee campus, and now as the company hurried to bring its clients back online, it occurred to Chen that fixed wireless would be the only way to do it.

It took a couple of weeks to clear debris from and restore power to the buildings (and for authorities to grant access to the ground zero area) and another week or so to conduct the line of sight surveys necessary to line up the antennae. The end result was three buildings, each within a mile of each other, with 100Mbps wireless antennae on their roofs. The signals consolidate on the top of the third building and travel five miles to a building with a T3 line, which connects back to the WAN. Chen now says that Everest will continue to use the fixed wireless as a permanent solution because it is cheaper and “no one can tell the difference.”