15 Minutes With...: Joe Banos, Managing Director of Strategic Markets/former COO, Wilson Electronics
Technology Integrator: Briefly describe the company’s history.
Joe Banos: Jim Wilson created Wilson Electronics in his garage in 1967. Over the years, the company has produced professional two-way radio, satellite TV antennas, ham radio and CB antennas, and even old-style mobile telephones (precursors to today’s cellular phones). In 1999, the company shifted to cellular products to address the dropped calls and weak signal problems. A year ago, Wilson was purchased by Sorenson Capital, a Private Equity group that understands the business and will undoubtedly take the company to the next level.
Boosters amplify cell signals and rebroadcast them in a home or office where the signal is weak. Cellular boosters have been around since about 2003; however, the product has improved astronomically since then as far as being network-friendly. Initially there was friction with carriers due to interference issues caused by the lesss-sophisticated products as a result of FCC certification standards not being adequate.
Over the last several years, Wilson worked with the carriers and the FCC to remedy this issue. Verizon was the first carrier to join Wilson in the effort to craft appropriate FCC specs, which has resulted in an excellent product. We spent two years working with Verizon developing these specs. Then T Mobile, ATT and Sprint joined the effort. We then presented to the FCC the new certification standards needed in order to certify a network-friendly booster. Last February, our specs were adopted. So, today’s product is bulletproof in terms of working with carrier’s networks while improving connectivity in weak signal areas. Over the last eight to 10 years, this product sector has really evolved as cellular devices become an important part of everyone’s lives.
TI: How is Wilson Electronics serving the home technology professional?
Banos: We have split Wilson into two areas: one serving the retail/consumer side, and the other the CI sector with the new WCI division. The drivers for doing so were to give better specialized service and to differentiate the product line while restricting it from the Internet. This has been greatly received by integrators.
An integrator’s customer cannot go online and find our Custom Installer product. We have also implemented an outside sales force, which will work with the WCI division in addressing the CI dealer audience.
We offer three cellular booster models that accommodate small-, medium- and large-sized facilities. Integrators typically charge anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000, depending on
We are in the process of making the product even smarter as we zero in on improving multiple antenna capabilities without losing performance. In larger venues of approximately 10,000–15,000 sq. ft., it is necessary to start distributing antennas in multiple places in the building. We are optimizing the product to work with multiple antennas, something competitors have not done. Most importantly, we cater to the integrator’s needs because we understand the business.