Where does your internet come from?
If you don’t want to use Comcast Where Verizon for your ISP, the Philadelphia area has another option available to you – and it may soon expand to your area.
Philly Wisper, a local, independent Internet Service Provider (ISP), has been around for seven years. Lately, the company has made great strides in expanding its reach to people across the city, founder Marc Steckel Told Technically.
The company started as “almost an experiment” to see if its team could really start their own ISP and make it work – “and most importantly, could we make happy customers?” Stekel said. It had indeed worked: “Each one of these was a resounding success.”
PhillyWisper is now extending its service to different parts of the city. Steckel said the company just launched the service on Monday at bok building in South Philly and plans to launch the service in a few large apartment buildings in West Philly in late October.
Many apartment and commercial buildings only have one ISP option (as was the case with the Bok building, by Steckel). PhillyWisper gives customers choice – and a personal touch.
“As a growing small business, we grow where we can, and in some ways [that] maintains our reliability and high standards of customer service,” he said. “Fundamentally, more choice for customers means better prices and more responsive customer service. And our customers love us because we take care of them.
Case in point: In the early days of the company, we wrote about how customer service calls went straight to Steckel’s cell phone.
PhillyWisper has provided internet service at a few major events in Philly, including the Philly Flower 2022 show and at the box office of the last four Made In America music festivals.
The company has also partnered with developers and general contractors to install service infrastructure in city buildings as they are constructed. Sometimes buildings have agreements with single, larger ISPs, making it harder for tenants to choose a different ISP if they choose. But in this way, PhillyWisper already has a presence.
“New residential development is – and has been – exploding in Philadelphia, with Kensington and North Philly being a major hotspot,” he said. “Over the past two years, we have established relationships with some developers to ensure that our infrastructure is installed during the construction of the building. Although it took time to gain traction, in the past nine months it has really taken off.
Steckel said his team is now working with more than a dozen developers and multiple buildings, and by the end of 2024 there will be around 10,000 completed apartments that will have PhillyWisper as an option. Steckel hopes that a significant number of them will choose the independent ISP. (He declined to share current guest numbers.) PhillyWisper has also partnered with an anonymous global hotel company, and the company plans to provide service to about 500 hotel rooms, according to Steckel.
In addition to this growth, PhillyWisper maintains its partnership with Philadelphia Wireless Community which started in 2020 amid the pandemic.
PhillyWisper has also provided internet service to a few major Philly events, including the 2022 Philadelphia Flower Show at FDR Park and at the box office of the last four Made in America music festivals. The event internet is a challenge because the infrastructure has to be put in place quickly and is usually torn down soon after – but “most of the time it’s just exciting to be a part of these big events, but it also shows that the PhillyWisper network is fast and reliable enough to take on this stuff,” Steckel said. “So things have to happen quickly and they have to work well. I take it as a vote of confidence since MIA comes back to us every year.
Overall, Steckel said the plan is to keep growing. He said the company wants to continue to expand its coverage area and customer base, but continue to maintain and improve its service quality and customer service. He said they also want to expand their team to support this growth. “And have fun doing it,” he added.
Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member of Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-
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