3air CEO, Sandi Bitenc, Joins Cryptopolitan to Discuss the Past and Future of Telecom Innovation, Blockchain Technology, and Bear Markets

3air CEO, Sandi Bitenc, Joins Cryptopolitan to Discuss the Past and Future of Telecom Innovation, Blockchain Technology, and Bear Markets

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the rest of the 3air team? 

My name is Sandi Bitenc, and I’m the CEO of 3air. I’m an economist by profession and a computer geek by heart. I’ve been fascinated by computers all my life, and I’ve been dismantling and rebuilding stuff since I was 6. I made my pocket money in high school by fixing computers and teaching my friends how to use them. I also taught myself some programming languages, so I’m proficient at building frontends and backends.

Overall, I think my best quality is building businesses and leading teams. I’ve built and sold multiple startups in my life.

I arrived relatively late on the blockchain scene but early enough to have the battle scars from the previous bear market. I started looking into real-life applications for blockchain technology, and 3air stuck all the right notes for me. Its mission inspired me to join the project and continue to build its robust use case for blockchain.

As for the team, we already have over 130 people working and growing together. Most of the team is on the ground in Sierra Leone, where we run our operations, and the rest is scattered across Europe and the MENA region.

Our team has excellent developers that are security-focused and world-class experts in DLT. We have a big marketing team that helps us spread the word, and we have specialized teams that are physically present and preparing the political landscape in Africa.

If you want to know more about the people involved, you can find more about us at: https://docs.3air.io/team/core-team/ 

How would you pitch 3air to our audience? 

That’s easy! We’re combining 2 of the most profitable sectors of the last decade, telecoms and blockchain, and applying them to a continent with limitless potential for the future, Africa. 

If I tried to explain everything 3air is doing, it would take dozens of pages to go through the details. In summary, we present a platform that will provide all the tools to ensure financial freedom, starting with stable and secure internet connections and ending with options to generate new revenue streams.

We are an ISP provider that can deliver world-class internet service to everyone within our coverage. We are using NFTs as the subscription carrier so that users can literally and digitally own their subscriptions. As a user, you can share your internet bandwidth with others and earn some income from it.

That’s 3air in a nutshell.

Please, tell us a little more about K3 Last Mile technology. 

K3 Last Mile allows us to connect people, through the air, over large distances, and without cables. There’s almost no cable infrastructure in Africa to provide connectivity over the last mile. 3air already has the capability to deliver up to 1Gbps over distances of up 50 km with a single tower. It’s a game changer in Internet connectivity in Africa. 

And as a bonus, we can utilize the same link to provide Digital TV and IP Telephony services, which are things we desperately need in Africa right now.

Which industry trends are you most excited about right now, and have these affected the 3air product design?

As I mentioned earlier, I arrived relatively late to the blockchain scene. However, I am now heavily influenced by the core vision of Bitcoin and blockchain technology. 

Since I discovered blockchain technology, I’ve always asked myself, “How can blockchain projects claim to bank the unbanked if most of the unbanked don’t even have an internet connection?” 

And then there’s the paradox that you need a credit card or bank account to buy crypto in the first place. So, how is it possible for the unbanked to get onboarded?

Additionally, the NFT craze influenced us to explore NFTs to provide real-world utility, and we came up with something exciting. 

And lastly, there’s a strong incentive for sharing economies within the blockchain. That was why we created our mesh network system where users can share their broadband internet with others.

What are the biggest obstacles to the success of 3air?

I think the major obstacles are cultural and political. We are entering new countries and economies that have their peculiarities. Success depends on market knowledge, extensive research, and proficient local partners.

The regulatory side of crypto also lacks 100% clarity, so we are in a perpetual maze, figuring out what is allowed and prohibited. For instance, it may become necessary to change the naming and principle of staking as the current regulators have suggested all staking coins may become securities.

There’s also the funding aspect, which is directly connected to our ability to expand to new countries and press home the competitive advantage we have currently.

There’s also an abundance of projects and innovations within the space, making it difficult to rise above the multitude and begin to make noticeable impacts. So, we don’t have the luxury of taking an off day. 

The bear market is a significant obstacle, but we’re doing pretty well under the circumstances. Well, that’s my perspective. You can also judge for yourself too.

How do you plan to stay ahead of the competition?

Thankfully not a lot of projects are doing what we are doing. We are building physical infrastructure on the ground in Africa, which is a significant step for any telecom company, let alone a project from the blockchain space. 

We are also constantly innovating. The connectivity technology is patented, and we are still improving it. That is our biggest asset, and we will continue to innovate the technology to stay ahead of the competition. 

Why do you think this is the right time to launch a project like 3air despite the challenging market conditions? 

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s the right time. In a perfect world, we would prefer to launch in the middle of a proper bull market, but we can’t delay our launch for legal reasons. We have contracts and conditions to launch within a year, and we are delivering as promised. 

Although the launch was tricky, we got great action on the token right after the launch, and I think everybody is happy right now, including the team. With the next bull run ahead of us and our real-world utility, I have no doubts that 3air will be a major success. 

Also, it is better to prepare everything now and smoothen the edges in a bear market to be perfectly positioned to take advantage of the market when the sentiment changes. The bear market is also an unforgiving teacher, helping you learn the important things, the project’s flaws, and setting you up for a sound future.

What metrics would you use to measure your progress?

As far as it is nice to track the price of the token, we don’t believe it is a reliable measure of progress. The price is a natural outcome of our progress on the ground. 

Our primary metric for success is how many users we have connected to the internet, how many countries we cover, and the number of Access Point Nodes we have deployed to areas within these countries.

Then there are standard KPIs like churn rate, bandwidth usage, customer satisfaction, etc.

So you see, we use different metrics than typical blockchain projects because we have a real-world business. That is why we use standard measurements as a telecom company would. 

I’m not implying that we don’t care about the people that hold our tokens. We are just emphasizing how organic growth will affect things like TVL, percentage of supply staked, and other crypto KPIs.

If you could bring one person from any point in history to join your team, who would it be and why?

I’d bring Nikola Tesla to the team. He was a visionary and had been working on wireless power transmission since the 19th century. He even made it work. 

Tesla would be a great addition to the wireless broadband team and would innovate with us. We already know he was a smart cookie, so he wouldn’t have any problems understanding blockchain tech and getting up to speed.

Also, I would love to see the expression on his face when I show him how wireless charging works in practice. 

Where do you see 3air in two years if everything goes to plan?

I see us among the top 50 crypto projects with over 10 million active users on our connectivity solution. We will set up our infrastructure in 9 countries in Africa and provide global coverage with our partners, reaching almost every part of the world.

We will be the project bringing blockchain and crypto to the general population, especially the underserved. We will also provide users with the technology they can relate to and upgrade it with blockchain to foster adoption.

Ibiam Wayas

Ibiam Wayas

Ibiam is an optimistic crypto journalist. Five years from now, he sees himself establishing a unique crypto media outlet that will breach the gap between the crypto world and the general public. He loves to associate with like-minded individuals and collaborate with them on similar projects. He spends much of his time honing his writing and critical thinking skills.

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