Wisper hits 600K passings with Tarana's FWA tech

Rural ISP Wisper Internet this week unveiled its fixed wireless access (FWA) service now covers around 600,000 locations in the Midwest.

Wisper is using Tarana’s next-gen FWA technology for its deployments, which it said can deliver speeds of up to 400 Mbps to rural and underserved communities across 9,500 square miles.

Wisper’s footprint spans six states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

“This network is a catalyst for delivering fiber-class broadband to far more people than just the 80,000 CAFII [Connect America Fund Phase II] locations we set out to cover,” said Wisper Founder and CEO Nathan Stooke in a statement.

Wisper was the second largest winner in the FCC’s CAF-II rural broadband auction, which took place in 2018. The provider scored $220.3 million in funding to expand its network.

“When we’re done next year, we will have passed a total of 1.2 million homes,” Stooke added.

Wisper’s expansion is fueled by a $151 million investment from Element8, a Texas-based provider with backing from private equity firm Digital Alpha.

Stooke told Fierce Telecom in July both Wisper and Element8 are using a hybrid method of fixed wireless and fiber “to provide the best solution for the community.”

It’s not clear from the companies’ release how many of Wisper’s 600,000 passings are powered by fiber compared to FWA.

Wisper said its internet service is connected to 310 Tarana-equipped towers, with plans to install 180 more towers in 2024. But the company also noted its build requires 300 fewer towers than the number it outlined in its initial network plan.

As a result, Wisper said it’s able to save nearly $5 million in operating expenses each year.

“No other wireless solution has ever allowed us to scale like this, and the cost is far lower than what it would take to reach all these areas with fiber,” Stooke stated in this week’s announcement.

Other operators using Tarana’s fixed wireless tech include Bluespan and Watch Communications.