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Nov 14, 2023
5 min

Your 4-Step Tower Expansion Strategy for Fixed Wireless Access

The Push or Pull of WISP Growth and Territory Expansion

There are two main reasons why you may be expanding Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) into a new area as a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP). 

  1. You’re actively pushing into a new area to increase your subscriber base.
  2. You’re being pulled to expand due to increased service requests coming from an unserved location.

Both options lead to the same conclusion. It doesn’t matter as much why you need to expand—the issue is how you do it. 


So You’re Ready To Expand FWA with New Towers, Now What? 

Expanding with new towers can be overwhelming, but you can lean on tried-and-true methods to ensure a successful deployment. 

There are four main steps that help WISPs expand beyond their current FWA service area. This approach is used by some of the most successful WISPs across the country, as they look to effectively grow and promote their growth. 


A 4-Step FWA Tower Expansion Strategy for WISPs

  1. Think about market expansion. Before you begin, you need to consider if you want to expand and how you will support it. Take stock of your existing subscriber base and identify nearby towns that lack internet.

    Reach out to local resources, like your mayor or alderman. They’ll have insight into the needs of the community and can provide maps, tower information, and coverage areas.

    Now you can better determine the best locations to deploy your services, identify where coverage is lacking, and learn what towers or tall structures are readily available. 

  2. Determine where to place the network. Sometimes you’re led to the right area because service requests come flooding in from that location. Other times, you can initiate expansion research yourself. 

    For example, you could create an online contact form to get responses directly from the community. Ask one simple question: Do you know of any tall structures around you? With these answers, you’ll learn exactly where to install FWA equipment—straight from the most trusted source you have.

    It can be expensive to erect a new tower, so look for existing water towers or large structures like grain elevators. Repurposing a tower can significantly reduce costs. Many WISPs work out a deal with the tower owner and swap services. You can also pay monthly rent. 

  3. Build market awareness before you enter the new area. There are several ways to successfully generate awareness so that your expansion is a hit, and the timing of these tactics depends on when you plan to start selling your service. For example, you may opt to pre-sell before the network is ready—especially if competition is heating up in your area. In other cases, you might sell as the network is being deployed—or you’ll wait until it’s installed and ready to go. Your market awareness tactics should cascade out prior to your active selling strategy. Here are a few to keep in mind as you plan your network deployment:

    • Generate information about potential subscribers in the area. Access insights using a cloud data platform like Calix Engagement Cloud to understand the demographics of those you're planning to serve.
    • Connect with locals. Build relationships with not only the leaders in local government, but also existing and potential subscribers.
    • Identify and work with online influencers. Is there someone in your serving area with a large online presence? They must need a great network to create their digital content. Collaborate with them to create a campaign that spreads awareness about your services.
    • Organize local events to learn what residents need from an internet provider, offer education about digital literacy, and help the community. By putting the needs of your community first, you’ll naturally learn what they need most—and your go-to-market strategy can start to build itself.
    • Surveys and market research also help determine where to best hedge your bets: Is a Facebook ad a good way to increase awareness? Would a press release reach the right audience?

      These are just a few of your options. As you go into expansion, you can further supplement your marketing strategy with email blasts, yard signs, and other tactics. By doing this early, you’ll be prepared when you start selling services to subscribers
  4. Capitalize on the awareness you’ve created to gain new subscribers. Finally, once you’ve expanded, you need to continue the momentum you built while generating awareness. Here are just a few options:

    • Hold local networking meetings with the mayor
    • Increase Facebook ad campaigns
    • Launch direct mail and door-to-door efforts
    • Leverage insights from Calix Engagement Cloud to tailor your messages
    • Create a blog and start writing about industry-related topics
    • Continue to hold virtual or in-person information events

As residents turn into subscribers, continue to nurture them with outstanding service so they transform into champions for your WISP brand. 

With these four steps, you can expand your network even with a smaller team. FWA is just the start. Fiber expansion is always another option for WISPs, and you can always go at your pace. The key to successful growth, no matter if you’re exploring FWA or fiber, lies in truly understanding your community—and working hard to serve them. 

As you connect with local leaders and residents, you’ll learn more about your options. Your marketing plan can reinforce all that hard work, leading to subscriber and revenue growth. That’s how you turn a resident into a subscriber—and keep them loyal for the long haul. 


Ready to win over more subscribers through a holistic engagement approach? Download our white paper, Building Engagement: How You Can Win Your Subscribers Over Every Day, to learn how.

Senior Marketing Manager, Segment Marketing

Susan Higgins is the senior marketing manager, segment marketing at Calix. Susan supports the wireless ISP (WISP) segment and brings over 25 years of experience in telecommunications, focusing on communications, market research, strategy, and sales enablement. Before Calix, Susan worked for Frontier Communications, Verizon Wholesale, and Sprint. Susan holds a B.A. in mathematics and psychology, an MBA in B2B marketing, a professional diploma in customer experience, and is a certified digital marketing professional (AMA+DMI).

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