Internet choice: Options for everyone
Boston’s netblazr aims to bridge the digital divide
Bobbie Carlton | 9/8/2016, 6 a.m.
Having access to the internet in the digital age means you’re connected to life. With internet access you gain the ability to satisfy curiosity and acquire knowledge on any subject.
Brough Turner, chief technical officer of Boston-based netBlazr, has dedicated his career to improving how people use the internet. Most recently that work includes bridging the “digital divide” that separates the world into haves and have-nots. When it comes to high-speed broadband access, this divide can be dramatic.
Turner co-founded netBlazr along with CEO Jim Hanley. The company provides affordable, high-speed internet service in the Greater Boston area. netBlazr utilizes point-to-point, wireless communication and optical fiber backhaul, giving customers dependable, affordable internet access that is not bundled with a package of services they don’t need or want.
Turner is leveraging his MIT education and technological expertise to improve broadband performance while providing more choice to Boston-area residents and businesses. Many low-income families are priced out of internet access, which can run in the hundreds of dollars each month when bundled with a high cost cable bill. netBlazr helps to close the gap for those lacking access to the internet. This gap can be a major problem for families with school-aged children who need to do homework at home but have no way to access the internet there.
At the same time, netBlazr’s Concierge program provides the number-one rated amenity for residents of high-end apartment and condo buildings: ultra-high-speed broadband.
“We’re providing an Internet connection that is 10 times faster than cable for less money, all with no contracts or hidden charges; it’s the internet access everyone deserves in America,” says Hanley.
Turner and Hanley, who met through a mutual friend, both had watched as U.S. broadband performance slipped in comparison to other parts of the world. They felt something had to be done to combat public policies that resulted in a monopolistic structure established by the major service providers in the U.S. They saw that between cable and telecom, large corporations had developed a stranglehold on American internet and media services.
“Our mission is to break that grip so internet access is affordable and fast, and customers are receiving the best service,” says Turner.
The duo’s entrepreneurial journey started after decades of working at a range of technology companies, with both partners having spent a significant part of their careers working with startups and VC-led companies. They experienced significant growth in companies ranging from computer software and hardware to IT services and mobile and data communications.
“Working in different companies that provided wireless service in the early days of the internet gave me a perspective on how the industry works and how it is changing,” says Hanley, who started his career in the wireless industry immediately after college. Hanley always has been a risk taker, he says; he left the perceived stability of a corporate job to explore new options and follow his passion.
On the web
Visit netBlazr's website: http://www.netblazr.com
The lessons Turner and Hanley learned in their past lives at technology startups helped prepare them for the challenges of a new business. netBlazr has grown at a steady pace. As with any new business, the pair experienced ups and downs along the way, but with the unwavering support of their spouses and confidence of angel investors, they continue to realize their vision.
“Part of our success is due to our mindset. You’ve got to set your ego aside and do whatever it takes to build the business,” says Hanley.
Their mission continues to be offering fast and reliable high-speed internet access and exceptional customer service. “In order to provide the best service,” Hanley notes, “we have to hire the best people for our growing team.” (Yes, netBlazr is hiring!)
One source of pride for the co-founders is netBlazr’s perfect five-star rating on Yelp. The high ranking and positive customer feedback are rare in the internet service industry. Their plans include expanding netBlazr service to more cities while continuing to build strong customer relationships and provide superior service.