How do the next billion people get online?
Few people are offline for lack of interest; in many parts of the world, getting connected is just too expensive. It’s prohibitively expensive as a customer, and it’s prohibitively expensive (and complicated!) as someone looking to start an ISP.
EveryLayer, a company competing in this week’s Disrupt NY Startup Battlefield, wants to make it easier and more affordable for all by lowering the cost and complexity of establishing or expanding an ISP.
The problem: in many parts of Africa or Southeast Asia, high-speed fiber networks are already in place… but only near the major cities and hubs. If you’re somewhere a bit more remote, it’s less likely that there’s any fiber nearby for a nascent ISP to tap.
For a new ISP to get data from that distant fiber line is expensive and complicated, taking as much as a year for them to get their infrastructure established and configured. EveryLayer says that they can shorten that process down to as little as 12 weeks, and with significantly lowered up-front costs.
EveryLayer helps would-be or existing ISPs in these areas with pre-negotiated access to the established fiber networks; gives them tools to map out and design their networks; advises and trains them on the carrier-grade wireless hardware to buy and set up in order to best get the data the last mile; and helps them with billing the end customer.
We first met EveryLayer at the TC Barcelona meetup, where they were first runner-up in our pitchoff.
Do you provide equipment?
No; we don’t provide equipment, and we don’t manufacture equipment. There are already a lot of great manufacturers, and a lot of upcoming manufacturers. Our goal is to be a vendor neutral enabling platform; allowing them to pick the best of breed [accounting for things like rural or urban]
Then ultimately, who buys the equipment?
The ISP buys the equipment.
And you’ve negotiated the backhaul, as well?
Yes – one of the very difficult things is getting competitive rates with mobile operators. We pre-negotiate international fiber access and domestic fiber access; we have a lot of experience in this space, working for the last seven years in these markets with a telco background. We go to service providers and offer them a growing number of ISPs over time.
So consumers can sign up directly?
At this point, we can provide service for enterprise customers which the ISP then delivers.What we’re launching now is the ability for the ISP to sell directly to consumers.
But the ISP can price it to consumers as low as…?
$5 per month is our suggested price, as we know that’s where they can be profitable.
You mention that Google/Facebook is an example of this working; are you saying that they think the internet connectivity itself is the business?
No; the business for them is just getting those users online. They’re willing to spend a lot of money on that.
But you’re competitive to these efforts? You’re allowing local ISPs to compete?
In some ways we’re competitive. In other ways we’re actually going together. Google is rolling out fiber in Uganda to enable ISPs to grow better. I think our interests are aligned.
How do customers find out about you guys?
We’re going to utilize viral marketing tools, things like referral marketing. One person can advertise to their friends, and they get a benefit from that.
Is anyone else out there doing what you’re doing in these countries?
There’s no one doing it the way we’re doing it. There’s no one doing it from “every layer”; that’s where the name comes from. We bring the technical aspect,
If something goes wrong with the ISP, what kind of support do you have there?
We will be delivering a significant support team, in addition to things like FAQs.