Tim Wilson

Many say the Akron/Canton area holds an unfortunate reputation for being slow to embrace new technology. Tim Wilson would disagree.

In 1995, Wilson founded EZ-Net, a high-speed, wireless Internet provider, running it out of a room filled with 28.8k modems. It soon became one of the area’s largest local Internet providers.

As phone companies began monopolizing high-speed Internet access with cable technology, Wilson explored other, faster options. In early 1998, he and his partners started experimenting with high-frequency radio waves and erected a temporary tower in downtown Canton to operate an unlicensed broadband data system for a handful of business customers.

Four years later, with the proper licenses and funding in hand, Wilson’s new company, SkyLAN, is attracting customers such as the city of Akron, the city of Canton, Suarez Corp. and several prominent law firms.

The company has purchased 15-year leases on broadband frequencies the FTC granted to PBS 45/49 and the Akron, Copley/Fairlawn and Revere public school systems. He says he was able to purchase the leases by simply “being at the right place at the right time.”

While companies such as Sprint and WorldCom control the larger markets, it’s the smaller entrepreneurial ventures like SykLAN that are gaining control of markets the size of Akron and Canton. SkyLAN can transmit within a 35-mile radius of the PBS 45/49 antenna in Copley Township, which gives it the ability to reach customers from Cleveland to Dover. But offering the service in Cleveland is not part of the plan right now.

“We don’t intend to pursue Cleveland as a market initially, because we think that the green space down here has more opportunity for this implementation,” he says.

“If you’re in a highly concentrated urban area, your choices are plentiful. Go to Dover and ask them how many choices they have. And besides, we’re centered here. We’re an Akron/Canton company.” How to reach: SkyLAN, (330) 455-4000