Wireless broadband network vendor BelAir Networks this week announced what company officials claim is the industry’s first service-level agreement (SLA) program to guarantee coverage and performance in municipal wireless networks.

Under the program, BelAir Networks will certify the network design of a service-provider partner and guarantee that network’s performance will meet contracted specifications, said Jim Freeze, BelAir Networks’ senior vice president of marketing and alliances.

“What that means is that, once the network’s up and running, if it’s not delivering to specifications in terms of coverage or end-user performance, we’ll deliver any nodes that are needed to fill those gaps free of charge,” Freeze said during an interview with MRT.

“The real value to service providers is that it allows them to de-risk their business model. Once we certify a design, if there’s additional necessary to meet capacity, performance or coverage objectives, they don’t have to worry about that, because BelAir’s going to take care of it.”

Freeze noted that the SLA program guarantee applies to contracted coverage and performance criteria. If a municipality wants to expand a network or enhance performance after the network’s initial buildout, it would need to negotiate the purchase of additional nodes, he said.

While municipal wireless broadband networks have become a hot industry trend, the performance and coverage provided by these networks have been a matter of dispute in many cities, according to multiple media reports. SLAs make it easier for service providers to deliver these networks in a manner that prevents such debates from starting, said Joe Caldwell, co-founder and CEO of U.S. Internet, the service provider deploying a citywide wireless network to Minneapolis using BelAir Networks technology.

“A major factor for our partnership with BelAir Networks was the industry-leading performance that their wireless mesh network solutions deliver,” Caldwell said in a statement. “We’ve always provided SLAs to our customers and now it’s great to work with a manufacturer that offers that level of assurance to us.”
BelAir Networks believes other service providers also will welcome the cost and performance guarantees, Freeze said.

“We think it’s a strong statement that differentiates us and delivers a strong message to our service-provider customers that we’re standing behind our technology and our products,” Freeze said. “We’re standing behind our product. We know what it’s capable of delivering, in terms of coverage and capacity, so once we certify a [network] design, we’re going to stand behind it.”