posted on May, 16 2008 @ 01:46 PM
Hi, I'm a telecom and wireless industry analyst, and these guys cold-called me by chance to ask if I wanted to invest $5,000 in their business. So,
not only are they asking investors to pony up for regional franchise licenses, and for retail franchises, but they are also asking investors to fund
the head office.
Seems like a company that is not interested in taking any risks of their own.
I looked over the "exec team" and laughed. They have 10 officers that are C-level. Ten chiefs, and how many indians (well, one actually). There are
also two President-level guys. Most of these guys have questionable educations, like "attended UBC" but no mention of graduation. Their backgrounds
are not very telecom or wireless, overall, though there is a dab of experience. It seems more like retail, printing, and marketing experience...of the
sort you would need to sell a dubious business plan. In my daily work in Silicon Valley, I review about 10 startups a month for investment purposes,
so I know how to look at companies. This one stands out as extra-dubious (not a scam for sure, but something smells fishy).
I fully understand wireless technology, yet their site doesn't really speak of it at all. It throws around enough buzzwords to indicate that someone
there has the skill to BS about wireless, but normally we'd see far more information. I won't say what is missing here, since they might just read
it and add it, then look more legit. I can only say that there are vast holes in their technology story.
At one point they say subscribers will connect with CPE or Ethernet. Well, CPE (customer premise equipment) needs to be a little more specific, and
Ethernet is a wired technology, so how does that fit their story at all?
They talk about WiFi, but don't specify which version, and they have stats all wrong. They under-rate DSL and dial-up, and basically lie about the
speeds of those options, then overstate the speeds of their solution. Standard marketing lies, I suppose. Sadly.
As others have said, the company owns no patents, no unique technology or solutions, nothing that can't be done or replicated by any other firm large
or small. Much of this has been done by others already, some successfully (Vonage VoIP) some to failure (muni WiFi).
But the last straw is the most important. Everyone in the industry has seen the prospects for Muni WiFi fade from 2005 to 2008. From being a hot idea,
it has become a dead duck. Many networks have failed. Companies gone bust. Cities left hanging with partial networks that failed to deliver. The WiFi
technology was not up to the task. The biggest marquee city, Philadelphia, is currently trying to salvage their broken deployment. The biggest service
provider (a competitor with Webnet), Earthlink, tried a half-dozen cities, found the costs far greater than expected, the technology not up to the
task, and bailed from the industry. And this company has far more resources than Webnet. Earthlink thought so little of the market that they paid
Dallas a $5Million fine instead of finishing the muni WiFi project. OK, so a recognized ISP brand, with customers around the country, that tried muni
Wifi, chose to pay $5M to get OUT of this business, now WebNet wants YOU to pay to get into it.
Muni Wifi, experts agree, will now exist mostly as infrastructure to support municipal operations - NOT as public access ISP.
Hey, maybe these guys are just better than Earthlink and the others. Maybe they have a better business model and plan. Maybe spreading the investment
risk onto franchisees and shareholders is a better way to finance a rollout. And maybe with their great plan, rolling out in Canada, the US, and the
EU all at once isn't too ambitious for a nobody company.
But to me this looks either like a legit company with dumb ideas that are bound to fail, or a scam to get your money in a pyramid franchise sales deal
that ultimately fails.