The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) Board of Directors announced that it is extending the contract of WISPA President and CEO Claude Aiken until 2022.
The board said doing so will allow it to further enact changes to the association that map to the evolving WISP industry and its role in bringing competitive and broadband capabilities to rural and urban Americans.
Aiken joined WISPA in 2018 after nearly a decade at the FCC, where he served as an adviser to then-Chairman Tom Wheeler and to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. He also held senior leadership positions in the Wireline Bureau and Office of General Counsel, as well key staff attorney roles throughout the commission.
“We brought Claude on because of his tremendous depth of experience and vision,” said WISPA Chairman and Wisper ISP CEO Nathan Stooke in a statement. “Since he’s been here, WISPA’s seen great success in guiding the industry through the ceaseless challenges wrought by technology and policy. We simply could not have maneuvered as nimbly or effectively without Claude’s hand at the helm. Keeping him on will allow us to repeat that success and continue to grow the industry.”
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Last summer, WISPA hired Louis Peraertz, former senior legal adviser to Commissioner Clyburn, as vice president of Policy. Clyburn left the commission in June 2018; current Democratic Commissioner Geoffrey Starks succeeded her.
WISPA has about 850 members, which include fixed Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), as well as equipment suppliers and providers of support services. WISPs are generally small, self-financed businesses, serving mainly rural customers with fixed wireless broadband service via unlicensed spectrum.
However, the organization points out that a growing number of WISPS are hybrids, offering a mix of wireless and fiber connectivity in their markets. With greater frequency, more and more WISPs are competing in urban environments, going head-to-head with legacy providers for new customers. In addition, the organization says new access to private and public capital streams have enabled a growing number of WISPs not only to bid for licensed spectrum, but also to undergo growth beyond the limitations of the self-financing model.
“I want to thank the Board for showing confidence in me and the team we’re building,” Aiken stated. “Our growing members are in the business of connecting unserved and underserved communities with broadband. Of giving choice and great connectivity where there wasn’t. WISPA is here to help them concentrate on that instead of red tape and other distractions which can get in the way of that important work.”
Added Aiken: “This is a great industry to work in, and I am thankful the WISPA Board has decided to keep me on.”