Three Northeast Ohio Companies Warming Up With Microwave


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NetX Internet, First Communications and Agile Networks are looking to put microwave antennas on tall buildings and towers in Northeast Ohio to provide faster internet service to companies who are opting out of the fiber optic cable option.

Crain’s Cleveland Business reported that microwave technology is more cost efficient and serves as better technology than it used to be, so NetX will begin using it in the area from Beachwood to Lorain.

Additionally, Akron-based First Communications started offering microwave internet in 2015. This year, the company expanded to Canton and Youngstown, and CEO Margi Shaw told Crain’s that they plan on expanding to Cleveland and Columbus by the end of the year. And, in 2017 and 2018, the company reportedly wants to spend $10 to $15 million on more rollouts. Canton-based Agile Network was in 88 counties in Ohio by 2015, along with the Multi-Agency Radio Communications System, which serves public safety agencies throughout Ohio, according to Crain’s. The site noted that half of Agile’s revenue comes from fiber and microwave internet service, and the company wants to go national in five to 10 years.  Another company, Windstream, also offers microwave service to Cleveland-based businesses.    

Other pluses of using microwave technology, Crain’s said, could be ease of use with upcoming 5G technology, giving a fast, affordable way for high-speed internet in areas that don’t have fiber access. There would be no need to dig, or lease fiber from other companies. However, NetX reported that microwave customers still need to be “convinced” to do business with smaller companies. Agile noted that it serves both fiber and microwave customers because “fiber is ‘great for aggregating and transporting large amounts of data,’” and “customers that can’t afford to lose internet access will sometimes set up fiber and microwave connections, giving them a backup if one goes down.”

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