Fatbanana Broadband Inc., a one-year-old wireless Internet service provider, is setting itself apart from the competition in Alberta. Not only is the Calgary-based firm building on its recent successes of providing broadband access to rural and urban customers, Fatbanana is about to embark on a wholesale business strategy.  Dan Grisdale, president of Fatbanana, tells Report on Wireless that there’s an opportunity to provide competitively priced wholesale and backhaul services to small independent ISPs in rural communities. The small town operation is "able to get competitively priced bandwidth (from Fatbanana) so that it’s going to able to provide a competitively priced high-speed Internet service to his rural community," he says.  "A very lucrative independent rural wireless internet business can be established, and Fatbanana will simply provide cost effective backhaul and access to the MCI global IP backbone," Fatbanana’s VP of business development Neil Barrett, adds.  The company is able to break into this market because it owns and operates significant facilities in the province. Through an agreement with MCI Canada, Fatbanana can provide Tier 1 Internet backbone access. It also owns a wireless OC-3 ring circling the city of Calgary and is well positioned in the queue to access Alberta’s SuperNet.  These facilities also allow the company to provide services both in the urban and rural markets, and the company isn’t shying away from competing against the much larger players in urban Calgary. Its OC-3 ring combined with its Tier 1 Internet backbone access enables Fatbanana to do this cost effectively.  Grisdale believes the company is well positioned to compete for business in the urban setting. "I think that we’re the only other player that’s really able to competitively provide bandwidth requirements for municipalities, health facilities, schools…I think Fatbanana, as an entity, has a competitive position to rival the big guys," he adds.  Barrett says the company’s decision to base its Calgary network on ATM technology rather than Ethernet gives it a leg up on the competition for the provision of latency sensitive services, such as Voice over IP. "The ATM environment allows us to map what we call a PVC, a private virtual circuit, to each customer, which dedicates their bandwidth. It’s an absolute dedicated pipe, and connectivity is symmetrical. And because our network is ATM, our access points are switched, they’re not IP routed, so we have unparalleled latency statistics," he explains.  "In the city, if you’re going to a VoIP (service) or something that’s very latency and bandwidth sensitive, you can get an urban connection from Fatbanana that dedicates your bandwidth and you’re going to get low latency like no other service," Barrett adds.  The company’s desire to compete in the urban market grew out of sister operation, Rigstar Communication’s, business of providing remote communications systems to the oil and gas industry. The Calgary firm wanted to be able to provide its customers’ remote locations with access to a single network, but needed Internet backbone access. The agreement with MCI Canada, combined with the company’s OC-3 ring now allows it to provide its large business customers with wireless LAN functionality spanning hundreds of kilometres between locations.  "We can provide Joe Oilco last mile connectivity wirelessly on our network in the city. We can provide the same to their remote operations, like a drilling rig, and then you’ve got end-to-end connectivity from downtown head office to X and Y drilling operations, all on the same network," Barrett explains.  Fatbanana appears set to shake up the competitive broadband access business in Alberta. The SuperNet initiative was the last piece of the puzzle giving the company all the right ingredients to provide end-to-end service – from the backbone to the premise – and to compete on a large scale in the city of Calgary and its surrounding rural communities (see article on page 3 for an assessment of SuperNet’s importance to independent ISPs in the province). The company, which recently completed its first full year of operations, reported nearly 100% growth year-over-year and projects that it will do substantially better than that in the coming year. Fatbanana is a private company and doesn’t release financial results.