JumpFiber Gives San Antonio Cord Cutters New Internet Option

San Antonio—Starting a new Internet service business is no easy task, from building the technological infrastructure to wooing customers away from ubiquitous cable companies.

But JumpFiber, a new wireless Internet service provider in San Antonio, isn’t shying away from the challenge, and it will now attempt to follow in the footsteps of similar companies like NetBlazr and Webpass, which sold to Google Fiber last year. JumpFiber launched last week, offering its wireless high-speed Internet service in the Weston Centre, a nearly 500,000-square-foot office building in the Alamo City’s downtown.

JumpFiber is offering tenants of that building, and eventually other office buildings and apartments, Internet service with download and upload speeds starting at 50 megabits per second, and running as fast as 1 gigabit per second. For businesses, the cost ranges from $99 to $1,299 per month, and prices are lower for residential customers, which the company plans to add later.

San Antonio is the only city currently in the company’s sights, although further expansion is a possibility, says Corky Roth, the company’s CEO.

“We’re going to get really good in San Antonio” first, Roth says. “The idea then is to move where there is opportunity, first in Texas,” and then potentially elsewhere, he adds.

JumpFiber plans to expand its service to more buildings in the same way companies like NetBlazr and Webpass did in other cities, by broadcasting Internet signal via a network of antennas installed on top of nearby buildings. In all, JumpFiber plans to offer Internet service to 10 to 15 buildings in downtown San Antonio, Roth says.

In those buildings, JumpFiber takes Internet data from the antenna that received it and transmits it through a fiber cable to the building’s communications room. There, JumpFiber relays it through hardware technology known as G.fast, which is a type of chipset that can improve the speed at which Internet data can be deployed over copper wiring, such as telephone lines that are located in most buildings, Roth says. An Israeli semiconductor company, Sckipio Technologies, is one of the developers of the technology.

The high-speed Internet signal can be connected to customers’ offices or apartments over the copper wiring for speeds up to 500 megabits, Roth says. If a customer wants the gigabit service, JumpFiber will connect fiber wiring directly to the customer’s Internet router.

Roth started JumpFiber earlier this year. He previously founded another wireless Internet service business, Zoom Broadband, which serves rural areas. For both companies, Roth purchases access to Internet signal from larger suppliers, such as Windstream Communications or AT&T. JumpFiber is privately backed, and Roth declined to name who his investors are or how much they’ve contributed.
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Like any Internet provider, the company faces plenty of competition, including from Google, which has been working on laying its fiber network in San Antonio that appears to be ongoing, according to TechRepublic. Roth says he doesn’t believe Google will be targeting the downtown area, where JumpFiber is focusing, so he can avoid direct competition there. But the tech giant’s plans could always change, of course.

As for more traditional Internet and phone service providers (JumpFiber also offers phone service), Roth says he believes his company’s straight-forward pricing, customer service, and Internet speeds will suffice to draw people. Roth contracts with a Texas call center for customer service, and his company currently has five employees. He says he has a few customers already, but he declined to say how many.
Roth doesn’t have ambitions to conquer the world of Internet service, just build a healthy business.

“We don’t have to serve 4 million customers in a market; we’re going to have a couple thousand,” Roth says. “That’ll allow us to have a more cohesive end-to-end customer experience.”

We’ll see if JumpFiber has what it takes, but this kind of pitch has resonated with consumers elsewhere. Plenty of people in densely populated cities have already switched over to similar wireless providers, including Xconomy’s contributing editor Wade Roush, who recently chronicled his ongoing experience with cord cutting.

JumpFiber also may eventually offer building and property managers other services, such as a platform that could help them operate smart building tools, such as automated lights, Roth says.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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