In exchange for tolerating all those antennas on their roofs, Vivint gives its hub-home customers free Internet service. Paying customers will also need an antenna on their roof, which is then hardwired to their router using CAT5e ethernet cable. Langford says Vivint installers do their best to conceal the cable, but it will run along the exterior of the home much like a satellite-TV cable would. A wall plate with an ethernet port is installed where the cable enters the home, ideally near the customer's router.
Vivint will provide an 802.11ac router to customers who don't have one, but the company will also work with existing equipment if that's the customer's preference. Vivint-branded routers have customized firmware that makes it easier for their tech-support personnel to troubleshoot, but the rest of the device is based on standards, according to Langford.
Vivint's wireless access points operate in unlicensed 5GHz spectrum, where they compete for bandwidth with 802.11ac Wi-Fi routers. But Langford expressed confidence when I asked if that might become a problem down the road as those routers proliferate and replace older 802.11n models. "We pay careful attention to that," Langford said. "There are so many available channels in that spectrum; we think there's plenty of bandwidth to go around."
WISPs (wireless Internet service providers) are typically regional players serving a limited territory, and that describes Vivint Internet today. The company provides service to scattered locations across its home state of Utah, and it recently expanded to El Paso and San Antonio, Texas. But the company has aspirations to serve the entire country.
"We chose El Paso because it's a warm market," Langford said. "Our to-market strategy is to knock on people's doors and get them to switch. When the weather is warm, it's easier to knock on doors. We chose San Antonio to show that we're not just working in the desert. And we wanted to show that we could compete with AT&T and Time Warner Cable at their best. We're going anywhere we think consumers are looking for an alternative ISP." Langford said the company expects to expand into three more markets before the end of 2015, and several more after that.
Langford declined to say which areas of the company Vivint planned to target next, but he said customers could petition for service by signing up at Vivint Internet's website. What do you think of Vivint's Internet service? Would you trade rooftop real estate and the visual detraction that goes with it for free Internet service? Let us know in the comments section, below.
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