The Internet is replete with great success stories and sad failures. While it is always nice to hear about the successes, more can probably be learned from the failures. In this case study, you will learn about the dream of Ricochet Wireless Data Network, a wireless Internet service provider started by the now insolvent Metricom Inc. In 1985, Metricom Inc. began as a research company with most of its funding coming from the Southern California Edison utility company. Originally, Metricom's mission was to develop wireless technology for electrical distribution applications. What evolved from this initial venture was a technology for providing wireless Internet access to subscribers within a specific geographic location. You will research the eventual demise of Metricom Inc. and you will be asked to decide whether a wireless ISP is a viable business. You will use your online research skills to find the relevant data about Metricom Inc. on the World Wide Web in order to answer the case study questions.
You have a client who is interested in the history of wireless ISP. Two company names keep coming up in his research, Ricochet and Metricom. Your client understands that Ricochet was once owned by Metricom Inc. and that it changed ownership. He asks you to find out what happened to Metricom Inc. and write a 600 to 800-word report on Metricom Inc.'s history with a description of its wireless Internet access service. Include in your report an explanation, in layman's terms, of the mesh network technology employed by Ricochet to provide wireless Internet access. Back your summary up with URLs from online resources.
Your client wants you to explain what went wrong with the wireless ISP business as practised by Metricom Inc. You are asked to briefly address each of the following issues. Write a 100-word to 200-word answer for each of the following parts:
a. Why do you think companies should or should not use a wireless ISP for Internet access? Explain.
b. What were some of the challenges Metricom Inc. faced operating a wireless ISP business? Your answer must include comments on challenges arising from technology infrastructure, cost structure, and Internet issues, but you may also address other issues.
c. Why do you think Metricom went out of business?
d. Why did Ricochet suffer the same fate?
e. Some say Metricom Inc. was ahead of its time. Do you agree or disagree? Explain.
After reading your report, your client is curious about Ricochet's initial technology. He understands the issues associated with Internet access if Riccchet's customers traveled outside of their service area, and he wants to be clear on his choices today for Internet access. He has asked that you suggest at least two modern Internet access alternatives to Ricochet's offering. He has a sales force that he wants to have mobile internet access, and he doesn't want to choose the wrong provider. Go online and find two vendors that provide wireless Internet access for mobile professionals.
Write an 800- to 1,000-word report for your client to help him to make a decision as to which wireless solution to choose for his sales force. In your report, identify the advantages and disadvantages of all three alternatives, including the business challenges, opportunities, and technology issues each alternative would face. Make a specific recommendation to your client on the wisdom of such a choice.