Starting a WISP (wireless Internet service provider) business is an exciting decision. The industry has proliferated to more than $350 million in annual revenue, according to IBIS World research. Yet, there are only a few hundred companies in the industry. That means it is tough to network with others in the industry – your immediate peers are likely to be competitors.
To find the ideas, inspiration, and contacts you need to grow a WISP business, you need to attend conferences for WISPs. Depending on your business development and interests, there are two types of conferences to consider attending.
First, you can start with the WISP specific events (e.g., WISPAMERICA, CanWISP Conference and South Wireless Summit), where you will get training and experiences directly connected to your business. Second, you can attend larger events that cover related communication technologies like 5G, security and related themes.
If you have been starting a WISP in the past 1-2 years, you will get the most value from focusing on WISP specific events.
1) WISPAMERICA 2020
- Location: Dallas, TX
- Dates: March 16-19, 2020
- Cost: Dependent on membership and number of days ($160-$829)
Organized by the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, this conference is tightly focused on the needs and interests of wireless Internet service providers.
Conference topics include human resources, technical training, business strategies, and sales and marketing. If you are starting a WISP and do not know anyone in the industry, this event is our number one recommendation.
2) The International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE)
- Location: Las Vegas, NV
- Dates: March 30-April 3, 2020
- Cost: Event ticket prices range from $75 (exhibit hall only) to the super pass ($1899)
Aimed at a broad audience of wireless communication stakeholders, this event is best suited to WISPs who have been in business for a few years. Featured topics covered at the event include radio interference, public safety infrastructure, cybersecurity, fiber optics, and new topics in LTE. If you are interested in a broader range of wireless communication technologies, this event is well worth considering.
Tip: Do you need to provide professional training for yourself or your staff? IWCE may be a good choice. You can sign up for technical training on topics like antenna training, fiber optics for wireless training and communication installation fundamentals.
3) South Wireless Summit
- Location: Nashville, TN
- Dates: March 16-18, 2020
- Cost: Event tickets for attendees are $355. Exhibitor and sponsors have different pricing options
For wireless Internet service providers in the southeastern USA, South Wireless Summit is a unique event. In operation for nearly a decade, South Wireless Summit covers various topics ranging from regulatory matters, 5G technology and REV H.
In 2019, a presenter at the event forecast a major skill gap in 5G adoption. The industry estimate suggests that 5G adoption will require 3 million new jobs including 850,000 in the telecom sector. To realize the benefits of 5G technology, additional skills training is needed in small cells, LTE, LTE-Advanced, and RF (radio frequency) fundamentals.
If you have moved beyond starting a WISP and want to prepare for future opportunities, attend events like South Wireless Summit to find out about new opportunities.
4) Big 5G Event
- Location: Dallas, TX
- Dates: May 18-20, 2020
- Cost: Event tickets start at $599 (i.e., early-bird pass for workshops only) and increase to more than $1,000 for attendees who want pre-event workshops and related events
When it arrives, 5G technology is going to impact the wireless Internet service provider industry. To find out more about this technology trend, check out this 5G event.
Unlike other events, the Big 5G event takes focuses on the Americas. If you are interested in expanding internationally, this is a good event to attend. If you are starting a WISP this year, this event would not be a good fit.
5) CanWISP Conference
- Location: Ottawa, Canada
- Dates: March 2-4, 2020
- Cost: Price ranges from $300 to $500 Canadian dollars (a bargain price if you are paying in US dollars)
In some industry events, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle of thousands of attendees. If you are looking for a smaller event, the CanWISP conference may be a good fit for you. With less than 500 attendees, networking with other attendees is easy.
If you are starting a WISP, take note of the CEO / Owner roundtable at the event. That’s a great place to ask questions and gain industry from your peers. Besides, there is a panel discussion on cold weather operations.
If you are concerned about the impact of snow, ice and cold weather on your equipment, CanWISP is a good place to seek advice. BLiNQ Networks is attending CanWISP this year, check out our Events page for more info!
6) Voice & Advanced Communications Summit
- Location: Düsseldorf, Germany
- Dates: October 27, 28, 2020
- Cost: £1599 plus VAT
Curious about the European experience on LTE and wireless communications? The Voice & Advanced Communications Summit is a good way to find out about emerging technologies.
Topics covered at the event include automation, 5G technology and voice communication and using data to attract customers. For those interested in expanding into Europe, this event is a good way to explore the waters.
7) MWC Barcelona (i.e. Mobile World Congress)
- Location: Barcelona, Spain
- Dates: February 24-27, 2020
- Pricing: Event tickets start at €799 (exhibitor) and range up to €2,699 for the gold pass
With over 100,000 attendees and 2400+ exhibitors, MWC is one of the world’s largest mobile communication events. You can expect to see a variety of presentations on 5G technology, presentations from Amazon and technical topics.
Seminars are offered on the Internet of Things (IoT), data privacy and security. This is a good choice if you are looking to discover new technologies and rapidly expand your professional network. If you are starting a WISP this year, we recommend going to one of the WISP specific events.
Make The Most of Your Conference Experience
The expense and effort of attending a conference event is only worthwhile if you prepare in advance. For the best results, reach out to colleagues, vendors, and others in advance of the event and schedule meetings. After the event, schedule at least one day for follow up activities. With these pre and post-conference activities, you will get the maximum bang for your conference dollar.