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Broadband—Tech firm offers more bandwidth, quick connections

Technical Director Ray Teichman was standing atop the crushed gravel roof of a Downtown office building with two men last week when his cell phone rang.

He deftly unclipped it from his belt and answered it. After a few nods of his head and a quick “OK,” he returned the phone to his hip.

“That was the site acquisition guy,” he told Regional Sales Director Alan Dorward. “He said 9605 would be signed up by the end of the week.”

Dorward stood unmoved.

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“So by next week we could have five buildings in the city center hooked up?” Dorward asked.

Teichman nodded.

Business is moving at a rapid pace for the two top local employees of the Bellevue, Wash.-based Advanced Radio Telecom Corp.

ART has been in San Diego a few weeks and already provides several Downtown office buildings with wireless broadband service.

In six months, Dorward projects 10 to 15 Downtown buildings will be wired with ART technology, plus five to six more in both Mission Valley and La Jolla.

He cites the “rapid deployment” of its infrastructure to existing structures as its key advantage.

New service for Ethernet-ready portals containing multiple 10-megabit packages, or the equivalent of seven T1 lines, can be online in 10 to 15 business days and subscribers can increase their bandwidth in 36 hours.

There’s no underground work or trench digging involved.

“That’s something that can make us very successful,” Dorward said.

The system is based on radio signals sent from the rooftop of the building housing the point of presence office to subscriber buildings using radio transmitters. The subscriber buildings form a “ring” around the point of presence building, Teichman said.

Client buildings in Mission Valley and La Jolla will encircle gateway offices and the information from those gateways will run back to the Downtown point of presence site via fiber-optic networks.

San Diego is the fifth metropolis ART has set up operations in since June and it is certainly not the last.

In 1998, ART altered its corporate strategy from being a telecom carriers’ carrier to becoming a broadband server to carriers and service providers whose customers were not served by traditional fiber-optic networks.

After a series of funding deals, including a convertible preferred stock offering in September 1999 and a purchasing agreement and funding commitment in November 1999, ART netted $426 million to advance the strategy.

Now the company plans to serve 40 major cities in the next three years. Cities ART moved into recently include Los Angeles and San Jose, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

However, investors have not been sold on the idea.

The stock, which trades on Nasdaq under ARTT, hovered at 11.12 on Sept. 12. While that was up from the 52-week low of 8.5, it was way down from the 52-week high of 49.25.

Teichman is unfazed though. Last week, he submitted specs to the corporate office for the interior design of the San Diego point of presence office at 225 Broadway.

And from the rooftop of the 22-floor office building he has already identified potential clients.

“Any building we can see,” he said, “we can hook up.”

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