As Americans start to think about moving away from cities to more rural areas, they naturally want to take the convenience of wireless communications with them. Yet the very benefit of living in wide, open spaces is also the biggest challenge to staying connected. Cable and other communications companies aren’t going to spend millions of dollars running fiber optics into the middle of nowhere if there are no customers to pay for it. But that’s where the beauty of wireless broadband comes in.
ERF Wireless of League City, Texas, is a “Critical Infrastructure Communications Service Company,” primarily operating in the enterprise vertical market sector of North American rural broadband. As such, the company provides secure, high-capacity wireless and other communications products and services to a broad spectrum of customers in underserved rural and suburban areas.
Dr. H. Dean Cubley is founder and CEO of the company, and knows quite a bit about wireless communications, having cut his teeth at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston during the Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle space programs in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. He was also a lead engineer on designing antennas for the space shuttle, having served as the subsystem manager for all U.S. manned spacecraft throughout the 1970s. As such, he knows what it takes to get connected far from the big cities.
“As bandwidth requirements become more and more demanding in wireless devices, the bandwidth requirements are going to go up and up,” he said recently. “In the near future, consumers will be connected via a combination of both wireless and fiber optics, depending on the application and location.”
ERF Wireless has three operating divisions and a wholly owned subsidiary that provide solutions and services to different segments of the wireless industry. Those divisions are:
Energy Broadband utilizes the wireless broadband expertise, project management skills, wireless network coverage footprint, monitoring and maintenance capabilities, proprietary security technology and the resources of the other divisions of the company to provide a unique wireless broadband product and service offering.
The Enterprise Network Services Division provides banks and financial institutions with secure, next generation data connectivity.
The Wireless Bundled Services Division provides wireless broadband Internet connectivity, VoIP telephone service and a number of other traditional ISP services.
The Network Operations Division provides overall network monitoring and maintenance of all ERF Wireless networks, and also provides a wide range of wireless design and construction services both for ERF Wireless as well as to third-party customers. The common theme in all these offerings is ongoing, secure connectivity, which Cubley sees as the key to wireless expansion.
“It all comes down to an economy of scale,” he said. “The more bandwidth you use, the less it costs you at the source. If you’re moving data from city to city, there is no more cost-effective way than using fiber. But once you get out into the country, there’s not yet enough population to justify stretching fiber, so wireless naturally takes over.”
But Cubley sees hope for those looking to live in literally greener pastures, but still want to stay online.
“Wireless 4G companies are building out cellular in rural areas,” he said. “You need to define the need of those customers and then define the technology that meets those needs. In the past we relied strictly on satellites. But we believe future connections will rely on a combination of both terrestrial wireline and terrestrial wireless connections.”
Edited by Alisen Downey