An interview with Wispapalooza keynote speaker John Gill of KentuckyFi

wispapalooza keynote speaker john gill

On the last day of this year’s convention, Wispapalooza keynote speaker John Gill presented his success story. “In one year, I went from square feet to now I service over 50 square miles of coverage,” he began, recalling how his WISP, KentuckyFi, blossomed in just twelve months. Today, he has 75 customers and covers more than 900 homes. John was invited by WISPA Director of Communications Mike Wendy to share his WISP journey at this year’s convention. 

During an interview with the Vilo team, John reiterated the central message of his presentation: “For anyone who is thinking about [starting their own WISP] and is scared that fiber’s going to beat them or anything like that—do it. Just go ahead and do it.” This enthusiasm comes from his own experience starting KentuckyFi. John is adamant that anyone can achieve similar success by utilizing online resources, seeking support from the WISP community, and making partnerships with companies that listen.  

Wispapalooza keynote speaker John Gill – opening slide.

John’s own ‘just do it’ attitude is partially inspired by the fact that anyone can learn just about anything thanks to online resources like YouTube. “There’s tons of YouTube videos out there,” he said during the interview. “It’s just like nowadays, there’s a lot of people working on their car while they’re watching YouTube and turning a wrench. That’s the same thing that’s happening with the internet providing side of things!” 

KentuckyFi isn’t the only WISP that came to life thanks in part to the knowledge available on YouTube. In last month’s ISP feature, Chief Se’khu Hadjo Gentle of RedFi Broadband shared how he watched YouTube videos to improve his internet providing capabilities too. And if you are ever unable to find what you are looking for online, the WISP community will have your back.  

While John was admittedly nervous at the time of his presentation, he was excited to give back to his fellow WISPs who’ve supported him since day one. “I’ve worked for other businesses in the past where there’s been so much competition, so much head-butting. With the WISP industry, it’s completely different,” he said. 

“If [your network] goes down for whatever reason, whether that be mother nature or your own accord, you’re a phone call away from getting it back up. There are people in the WISP industry who just love helping each other out.” 

During his Wispapalooza address, John referred to companies like Vilo as “tools in [his] toolbox.” Whether it be Vilo or some other company in the industry, the most crucial part of any partnership, according to John, is the company’s ability to listen. 

“One of the reasons I continue to work with Vilo is that they’re doing so much in the market of listening to us WISPs. You tell them what you need and they’ll work to get it to you in the next release. It’s kind of like what we’re doing for our customers when we go to a customer’s house,” he continued. “The customer wants a satisfying product, and Vilo does the same thing for an ISP.” 

Watch Wispapalooza keynote speaker John Gill give his presentation here!

John cautioned against working with larger companies as they are more likely to be “set in their ways,” and care more about making “the biggest profit margin” than helping smaller ISPs. After noting the symbiotic relationship between WISPs and companies like Vilo, where helping one another achieve is in the best interest of both parties, John said, “That’s what Vilo is all about—helping you win.” 

Circling back to his tool analogy, John also suggested never deleting industry contacts. “If you’ve ever seen a mechanic, they have these huge toolboxes. I see contacts, email addresses—I see all of that as tools in my toolbox,” he explained. 

To conclude his presentation, John recalled how when he first started his WISP, a Windstream representative looked him in the face and told him, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” When asked if that person thinks he knows what he’s talking about now, John laughed, “well, his technicians are telling their customers about KentuckyFi now, so I’d say so!” 

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August Webinar Recap: Maximizing Revenue from Your Subscribers 

maximize revenue with Vilo

From towers to access points and everything in between, your network makes you money. So why not have Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) make you money as well? In this month’s Vilo Webinar, we dive deep into how to maximize revenue with Vilo’s App, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Portal, and the CPE that your subscribers interact with the most—their routers. 

Guest appearances include John Gill, owner of Kentucky Fi, a Kentucky-based Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP); and Adam Hart, Head of Operations & Sales at GETUS Communications, a Canada-based Third-Party Internet Provider (TPIA).  

Vilo Webinar August 2022: Maximizing revenue with Vilo

Vilo’s affordable products and services for ISPs 

When it comes to maximizing revenue, a good place to start is to reduce your initial set-up costs by choosing the affordable option: Vilo. Depending on your location and how many you order, Vilo routers can cost as low as $25.99 per unit. Buying at such affordable costs, especially when compared to other hardware providers, helps ISPs rapidly increase their return on investment (ROI). 

When he first discovered Vilo, John Gill of Kentucky Fi immediately recognized the product’s value, especially when compared to other vendors. “When you’re looking at an AC router that’s costing you $80, and then you’re getting a Vilo router that—a 3-pack is costing you $80, I put my money in the smart solution,” says Gill. 

Renting out additional units 

One of the easiest ways to maximize revenue is to upsell additional nodes for subscribers who want more coverage. We have seen a lot of success from our ISPs who offer the first router for free and then charge monthly fees for additional routers per their customers’ needs.  

At Kentucky Fi, John Gill gives all his customers their first Vilo mesh router for free. “That makes it so much easier when the customer calls and has problems with a TV or a back bedroom or something like that. It makes it so much easier for me to go, ‘Okay, we can add two more units to your house, it’s only an extra $10 a month—that’s it.’ And I just go in there, hit the mesh button, and I am in and out of their house in less than 30 minutes.” 

For ISPs who are hesitant to charge for the extra routers, Gill says, “not charging for the modem is not the way you will help out your customers or be better for your customer. The way you can help out your customer is by having better support, having a better network, having a more stable infrastructure than your competition.” 

Offer managed wi-fi services 

Your customers love having control over their connectivity, and the Vilo App gives them exactly that. The subscriber-facing app allows them to manage and monitor their own network, configure Parental Controls, set-up guest Wi-Fi, and more. Offering this service further supports the idea of monthly fees, as they are no longer just paying for a box, but a managed Wi-Fi solution. 

Vilo Webinar August 2022: Maximizing revenue with Vilo

Save on truck roll and support costs with the ISP Portal 

With the ISP Portal, you can run speed tests, reboot routers, view connected devices and their signal strengths and history, detect channel interference, and change channels, and push firmware upgrades. Explaining how he uses the portal daily, Gill says, “99% of the time, I know my customers having internet problems before they do.” By being able to troubleshoot and diagnose issues from the portal, ISPs can forego the truck roll costs. 

“We were able to identify, once we had a few [Vilo] units live, that our customers actually were not calling us for support,” explains Adam Hart of GETUS Communications. “But if they did, we were actually able to effectively help them in a faster time frame—which was cutting our talk times, reducing for support calls, and we’ve roughly seen around a 39% decrease in our customer support costs.” 

Brand credibility 

The more your subscribers trust you, the more business they will give you. The best way to cultivate that trust is by educating and communicating with your customers. Vilo’s here to help with that too by providing our Go-To-Market Kit that is chockfull of resources to our ISPs. The kit includes content for newsletters, social media posts, websites, and more.  

A true partner 

There is no better partner for ISPs than Vilo Living. Since Gill has partnered with Vilo, his ROI time has averaged between three to six months. “Vilo has become so good for my business that it’s truly the only router that I sell,” says Gill. 

Vilo Webinar August 2022: Maximizing revenue with Vilo
Vilo Webinar August 2022: Maximizing revenue with Vilo

At GETUS, Hart reports that on average, they are seeing ROI in two months. “Vilo is not just thinking of themselves, they’re thinking about everyone that partners with them,” he concludes. 

To learn more about why Vilo is the ideal ISP partner, click here. Vilo Living holds webinars bimonthly. To view this month’s webinar in its entirety, click here