The owner of Mad Science, a children’s education and entertainment company in the Scottsdale Airpark, needs Internet access to operate his business. But the traditional dial-up system Jack Hamlett had been using was way too slow.
Yet high-speed connections such as DSL, cable lines or T1 telephone lines were either unavailable or prohibitively expensive He found the answer in another technology — wireless high-speed Internet service. "We download a lot of things, and the regular dial-up was so slow you sit down and have a cup of coffee," he said. "The new system is like two blinks of an eye. It will greatly speed up our business."
Hamlett is the first beneficiary of a new program being launched by a group of airpark businesses to provide affordable, fast Internet connections to small businesses in the area around the Scottsdale Municipal Airport. The Connectairpark.com Internet Access Program is sponsored by AZ Scottsdale Network AirPark, or AZSNAP, a group of about 200 airpark businesses formed a year ago to negotiate better deals for employee health insurance, Internet access and other services.
"Internet connectivity in the airpark has been the overriding concern for our members," said Craig Morningstar, president of the group, adding that "businesses here simply can not wait any longer."
Project manager Karen Damiata said wireless companies have infrastructure in place to provide high-speed Internet service to the airpark area, but they were offering services that were either too expensive or didn’t provide exactly what small businesses in the area needed. She negotiated with local wireless compani6es such as Renaissance Networking, TeleSpectra and others to reduce rates and offer products that more closely match the market.
"These companies were flexible . . . (and) were open to the needs of the market," she said.
Although security has been a problem with wireless service, Damiata said wireless providers now have security mechanisms equal to or better than land-line technology.
For businesses that prefer terrestrial data and voice connections, Connectairpark.com offers products from more than 20 carriers, including Qwest, MCI and AT&T, through Solutions Interface of Cave Creek.
The problem for many of the small businesses in the airpark is they need faster speeds than are available with dial-up modems, but they don’t need technology as fast or expensive as T1 lines, Damiata said.
Connectairpark.com offers a wider range of services closer to what small businesses need at more affordable prices, she said. For example, a basic wireless 256 kilobits-per-second service — a speed between dial-up and T1 — is available for $50 per month, she said. Additional services such as e-mail and Web hosting are extra.
The program is for network members only. Annual membership fees range from $180 to $1,500, depending on the size of the company.