Everywhere we look in the telecom and internet infrastructure space we see preparations for 5G underway. But in many cases, the technological hurdles aren’t the difficult ones. In markets like New York City it’s easier to talk about network densification but a whole lot harder to actually do it. Places like NYC have long been minefields for large carriers, but opportunity zones for smaller companies with the necessary local knowledge and capabilities. One such operator in NYC is Skywire Networks, which has been busy deploying its network throughout the digital deserts of NYC. With us today to talk about Skywire’s approach to bringing high-speed internet to every corner of NYC is founder and CEO Alan Levy.
Words can’t adequately describe what we all experienced in 2020. In early March and through the spring and summer, NYC was at the epicenter of the Covid-19 crisis.
Early on, a number of our employees (including me) had the virus. Fortunately, we all got through the first wave in good shape. For months, most businesses either moved to remote working or shut down, thereby leaving the city as a ghost town. The sounds of sirens filled the air around our offices in Brooklyn, only interrupted by the loud clanking of the pots and pans at 7PM each night by our citizens thanking our nurses, doctors and first responders.
I recently read a thoroughly researched article titled – “It’s 2020: Why Is The Internet Still Treated Like A Luxury, Not A Utility?” As the CEO of Skywire Networks, not only have I been asking this same question for many years, but I have worked with my team over the past 6 years to build an internet network throughout NYC, especially in the “fiber poor” outer-boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.
Early last month, with much fanfare, Apple announced their new 5G iPhone12. As the Apple ads hit the airwaves, not surprisingly so did the ads for Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T all touting their “5G” networks. If you read the fine print, you will realize that a very small portion of the 5G nationwide network is available and operating. There are 20,000 cities in the US and one of the carriers noted that they have lit 2,000 cities or 10%. If you dig a bit deeper, the total populations of these 2,000 cities is less than 1% of the total population. Anyway, these companies want to sell tons of phones and selling a new shiny object like 5G is a great way to do so.
Alan Levy, CEO and Founder, Skywire Networks made the point that private industry has already spent a ton of time and money working on 5G, and it would be a total waste to have the government start over.