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A Tale of Two Fires: How VoIP Came to the Rescue

By: Paula Bernier

When fire displaced Larry Anglin and his staff at Hometown Computing last August, they had a good understanding of what it felt like. That’s because the equipment reseller/Internet service provider had been through a similar situation with its customer P and S Masonry around the same time the prior year. But thanks to the flexibility of VoIP and wireless technologies, both companies were able to continue operations despite these unpleasant events, which prevented them from conducting business at their original locations.

Anglin, president of Hometown Computing, probably never thought he’d have to deal with a business emergency of this scale when he started the Hamilton, Texas-based company in 1996 after coming out of retirement. The company got its start as an Internet service provider; that part of its business still exists today. Hometown Computing provides wireless access to a couple thousand subscribers over its 10,000-square-mile Wi-Fi network; it also offers a dial-up option. And it was as a wireless ISP that Hometown Computing first made contact with P and S Masonry, which is also based in Hamilton, about a decade ago, explains Anglin.

P and S is an interesting company, he adds, because in addition to the dozen or so employees at its Hamilton office, it has about 200 employees that work at remote sites. That meant the customer had unique requirements around security and remote access, Anglin says, and Hometown Computing has worked closely with P and S to provide the needed secure connectivity and authentication that allows remote workers access to needed data. Hometown Computing, an ADTRAN (News - Alert) reseller, also installed a NetVanta 7100 IP PBX for P and S.

When the P and S offices burned to the ground, Hometown Computing came to the rescue by enabling the company to restore its communications via wireless connectivity within 24 hours. Anglin says P and S was able to relocate in a building in which Hometown Computing had an existing customer. That was convenient because the wireless ISP already had a tower there.

“So we were able to put on a radio for bandwidth and put down a VoIP switch and some phones, and it was up that day,” he says, explaining Hometown Computing used a line-of-sight 2.4-GHz Wi-Fi radio connect to link its access point radio on the water tower in Hamilton with the building in which P and S is now located.

While the P and S fire was a total loss, the Hometown Computing fire didn’t burn the building to the ground. However, the fire did destroy some vehicles and affected the building badly enough that the service provider had to vacate it.

Hometown Computing had an ADTRAN NetVanta 7100 at the location, so Anglin just picked it up and moved it to his home, out of which he is running his business today. The Anglin abode was already on the Hometown Computing wireless network, so he just plugged in the switch for bandwidth and dialtone, and got a POTS connection as well. And, voila, Hometown Computing was back in business. IT

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