One of America's oldest companies is getting into fixed wireless

train in Yukon Canada
Breeze Broadband installs cell towers along its railroad line. (Chilkoot/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Update: Breeze Broadband has discontinued service. Click here for the details.

The fixed wireless scene is attracting a wide range of players, from established companies like AT&T and Verizon to flashy startups like Starry and Common Networks. But one new player in the industry stands above the others in terms of its corporate heritage. It’s Breeze Broadband, a wholly owned subsidiary of Union Pacific Railroad, a company that traces its founding to 1862.

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Breeze Broadband operates like many other fixed wireless providers. It broadcasts a signal from its cell towers to receivers on nearby homes and offices in order to deliver internet service. But Breeze Broadband has one ace in the hole: Union Pacific Railroad owns 32,000 miles of railroad track across 23 states, locations where Breeze can install its own cell towers.

Union Pacific has been thinking about launching broadband service like this since at least 2002. In an brief interview with Forbes, the company’s current CIO, Lynden Tennison, spoke about both Breeze as well as PS Technology, another Union Pacific subsidiary created to monetize Union Pacific assets (in PST’s case it’s enterprise workforce management software). According to Tennison, these two subsidiaries have generated over $50 million in annual revenues, though the balance between the two was not mentioned. (Because PS Technology has been in operation since the ‘80s, it’s logical to assume the lion’s share came from them.) Breeze Broadband did not provide details on its fixed wireless service, including its financial situation.

Breeze Broadband operates like many other fixed wireless providers. The company’s equipment is installed at customer homes or at business locations; the customer then connects their modem or router to this hardware. Ubiquti and Canbium are the vendors for Breeze’s customer premise equipment.

Breeze started as a consumer service; business options were added later. When a customer signs up, they pay a one-time installation fee of $100. Breeze monthly service prices range from around $50 to $90 for download speeds up to 58 Mbps. Breeze doesn’t have data caps or do any data throttling.

The company currently provides service along a 100-ish mile area that parallels U.S Route 30 in Iowa between Carroll and Marshalltown. The company started in Boone, which launched in 2017. Breeze said that it plans to continue further along this route into Illinois to the east and further west in Iowa, and may also expand into California, Kansas and Texas, though the company did not provide dates or details.

Breeze’s spectrum is in the licensed 3650-3700 MHz range, which was made available by the FCC in 2005 specifically for wireless broadband services.

Bill Wax is Breeze’s president. He has worked at UP since 2007 in a number of different roles, and has led Breeze since its inception in 2016.

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