I am a new (actually returning after a few years hiatus) member of NetworkLessons! I used this site way back in the beginning of my networking days to get a better grasp of key protocols, designs, etc.
Now, as a more seasoned Senior Network Engineer I’m turning to NetworkLessons once again for knowledge, ideas and a reference for designing my own WISP!
A previous coworker and I are looking to service a rural area of a northeast state that has few options for ISPs and many only have the price-gauging DSL for an Internet option. Don’t get me wrong, DSL was a great service back in its day and is still a fairly reliable option for rural customers but streaming demands and ISPs taking advantage of their customers’ limited options has lead my friend and I to hopefully provide a new, fast and affordable option to these customers.
As a Senior Network Engineer I am familiar with designing and managing medium sized datacenters, LANs, connectivity over MPLS/SD-WAN, BGP/OSPF and routing in general, network access control, wireless deployments and more, but my experience stops at actually providing service to customers so I’m expecting (and fully believe) this site will give me the knowledge I need to make me confident enough to take the next step.
Not only is this a YASI (Yet Another Subscriber Introduction) but hopefully a foundation for communication among other’s who are interested in WISPs and/or have experience with WISPs.
Please feel free to share your thoughts, experience, questions in this area!
Starting a WISP sounds like a cool project! It’s a lot of work too.
You’ll have the technology part but on the business side there is also a lot to take care of. Do you already have customers who might be interested?
There is quite some material online that explains everything you need to start a successful WISP.
I (and now with my new business partner) have been looking into this for some time. I’ve done fairly extensive research on business models for WISPs, I’ve conversed with other WISP providers and taken a look at what we would need for an initial deployment. In fact, what lead me back to NetworkLessons was another WISP related blog (researching routing options for tower to tower connectivity) and they referenced NetworkLessons.
I do have (what I would consider) a good fundamental grasp of the business aspect, but I have no hands-on experience. However, working for a large company who has many customers of their own I have second-hand experience with business operations (legal, billing, OPEX,CAPEX, etc). That’s not to say I would not be open to any and all advice on the business or technical side regardless of what knowledge I currently have! I will never have too much pride to prevent me from learning from even less experienced persons, you never know where you’ll pick up a “nugget” of wisdom
One of my favorite go-to tools has been Ubiquiti. I am not advocating for them, but I will say that the geography of the areas we plan on servicing have some challenges (mountainous areas, uneven terrain, areas with dense tree population) and their WISP-oriented design tools have greatly helped anticipate our needs and obstacles. I’ve also looked into fiber and tower providers with existing infrastructure and discovered we may not need to build entirely from the ground up and possibly even build our headend close enough to a fiber trunk that would keep initial costs lower.
To answer your other question, we have not done any direct research yet to verify potential customers, however simply living in the area over the last six years has led me to believe there would be interest. There is little ISP competition in this area and many residents still rely on DSL for the more remote service areas (as I mentioned, this area is a more rural part of Pennsylvania) and that service is quite expensive with little to offer (8-10Mbps at most in most areas). From this, I’ve come to the conclusion that if we can offer a faster, reliable and either on-par with, or more affordable, connectivity option customers would migrate. With that said, this will not be the only means in which we anticipate our customer count. We are looking at affordable local marketing/advertising and surveying options, however we are running off of personal finances at this time and moving a little slow.
Thanks for sharing your plans on the forum. It sounds like you’ve prepared well for this endeavor, and we wish you success. Keep us posted as you go along, and if you have any questions or concerns that we can help you with, it would be our pleasure to help out in any way we can.
By the way, I think this mindset is extremely wise and beneficial: