WISPA Extends WISPA CEO Claude Aiken's Contract until 2022St. Cloud, FL, January 6, 2020 – The Board of Directors for the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) announced today that it is extending the contract of WISPA president and CEO, Claude Aiken, until 2022. Doing so will allow the Board to further enact changes to the association that map to the evolving WISP industry and its role in bringing innovative, competitive and ever-increasing broadband capabilities to rural and urban Americans.
A leader on broadband policy, Aiken joined WISPA in 2018 after nearly a decade at the FCC. While there, he served as a trusted advisor to Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn. He held senior leadership positions in the Wireline Bureau and Office of General Counsel, as well key staff attorney roles throughout the Commission. Before joining the FCC, he was a John Marshall Harlan Scholar at New York Law School, where he graduated with a specialization in information and technology law.
“We brought Claude on because of his tremendous depth of experience and vision,” notes Nathan Stooke, WISPA’s Chairman of the Board. “Since he’s been here, WISPA’s seen great success in guiding the industry through the ceaseless challenges wrought by technology and policy. We simply could not have maneuvered as nimbly or effectively without Claude’s hand at the helm. Keeping him on will allow us to repeat that success and continue to grow the industry.”
WISPA’s approximately 850 members are composed of fixed Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) and the industry that supports fixed wireless broadband, including equipment suppliers, support services, and other components needed to run a successful business. WISPs are generally small, self-financed businesses, serving mainly rural customers with fixed wireless broadband service via unlicensed spectrum.
But the industry is rapidly changing.
A growing number of WISPS are hybrids, offering a mix of wireless and fiber connectivity in their markets. With greater frequency, more and more WISPs are competing in urban environments, too, going head-to-head with legacy providers for new customers. Finally, new access to capital streams – private and public – have enabled a growing number of WISPs not only to bid for licensed spectrum, but also to experience immense growth beyond the limitations of the self-financing model.
The industry is burgeoning, too. Since 2016, the industry has grown 50% from four million to six million users today. This growth – fueled by significant uptake in rural and other undeveloped markets – shows that WISP-provided broadband is mature and robust, and that its providers are adept at filling the gaps in coverage created by legacy providers who have neglected these areas because they are deemed too unprofitable to serve.
WISPA is a thriving association. The centerpieces of the organization are WISPAPALOOZA and WISPAMERICA – multi-million-dollar conferences which attract thousands of attendees and exhibitors from the entire WISP ecosystem. They are widely recognized by WISPs as the two must-attend shows industry players need to go to each year, being jam-packed with information and training sessions, access to new technology and services, and networking opportunities, all designed to provide direct and lasting value to each attendee’s bottom line.
WISPA is also the voice for the WISP industry on public policy matters. The association's advocacy efforts are focused mainly at the FCC and Capitol Hill, concentrating on four areas: Balanced spectrum approaches, ensuring that small and rural providers have a fair shot at accessing airwaves that are critical building blocks for fast, reliable broadband; targeted subsidy programs that expedite broadband deployment to unserved locations in a technology-neutral and cost-effective manner; fast and fair access to infrastructure for broadband deployments no matter the location, whether federal, state, municipal, or private; and “right-sized” regulatory burdens that are appropriately calibrated for small businesses.
“I want to thank the Board for showing confidence in me and the team we’re building,” said an elated Aiken. “Our growing members are in the business of connecting unserved and underserved communities with broadband. Of giving choice and great connectivity where there wasn’t. WISPA is here to help them concentrate on that instead of red tape and other distractions which can get in the way of that important work.”
Added Aiken, “This is a great industry to work in, and I am thankful the WISPA Board has decided to keep me on.”
WISPA is a membership-driven trade association that promotes the development, advancement and unity of the fixed wireless Internet service provider industry. WISPA has over 850 members that support WISPA’s advocacy, education and other collaborative industry initiatives. For more information, visit www.wispa.org.