Chances of starting a successful WISP

JOReilly

New Member
Verified Provider
Hey Guys and Gals,


With the holidays just around the corner, I have spent quite a bit of time with my folks at their house. The one thing I constantly hear is how bad the internet is. Now I have heard this from my parents as well as the neighbors. 


They are in a rural area of Maine, US and the only services offered are DSL and crappy speed cable from MetroCast.


This is where my enterprising idea comes in. What would be the odds of setting up a WISP for the community? There is plenty of land and I am sure there is somewhere that has a decent internet connection that could be the base of operations. From what I understand the town would be fully corporative in the effort.


Anyone have any opinions or experience with this? 
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
Wireless ISPs are needed.  Hoping they take off again.


It takes more than just an internet connection.  This is enterprise level thing.  Infrastructure laid out right.  Base install sites ideally on cheap somehow - otherwise you are going to bleed from what tower access costs.


Depends on the density and landscape there too.  Ideally some flat-like lands you can get up good and high on things and cover a lot of footprint cheaply.
 

JOReilly

New Member
Verified Provider
Wireless ISPs are needed.  Hoping they take off again.


It takes more than just an internet connection.  This is enterprise level thing.  Infrastructure laid out right.  Base install sites ideally on cheap somehow - otherwise you are going to bleed from what tower access costs.


Depends on the density and landscape there too.  Ideally some flat-like lands you can get up good and high on things and cover a lot of footprint cheaply.
I was thinking of using Ubiquiti gear. Everything I have read about them has been positive. As for the major backhaul points, Those would be seemingly easy theres plenty of high points that the town owns. Water towers, etc. I see a problem that its a woodland area with many trees and a lake. 
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
I was thinking of using Ubiquiti gear. Everything I have read about them has been positive. As for the major backhaul points, Those would be seemingly easy theres plenty of high points that the town owns. Water towers, etc. I see a problem that its a woodland area with many trees and a lake. 
Lots of folks use Ubiquiti and say good things about.  Be sure to eyeball Mikrotik also.


Price for both on the client radios is awesome.


If you can get government buy-in / right of wave / mount access then it makes something like this a lot more doable.


Problem and where you should begin is knowing what fiber is available to tap into.  Unsure how rural it is there, but possibly limited to options that are the telco + the cable company for bandwidth.
 

mitgib

New Member
Verified Provider
Avoid areas where you have to compete with Cable and DSL providers, you will lose a lot of cash that way, stay in the rural no access areas.  Don't look at what is high that you can mount on, talk to those who control the high points, even water tower access can be costly.


I have a small struggling WISP in Rock Hill SC, can't sell a damn thing, but get 5 miles out of town, and can't keep interested parties off.  So getting access out of town was the key, then once out of town, you are going to find people more receptive to the idea.  In cable areas, you'll find people are lazy as hell.  They will bitch and moan as long as you will listen about how there is no competition, offer them competition, and it's like their wallet became locked with hardened titanium impenetrable by even the sharpest diamond tipped bit.  Oh, and residential clients generally do not pay. You are their favorite lender, so a billing system is your 2nd choice so you can suspend them without effort.  There are billing modules that plug into https://www.ubnt.com/enterprise/software/ and will even enable a pay as you go system, or like I do, in my parking lot, there is open wifi, but too many local cops were sitting around, so it all redirects to http://hotmale.com now.
 

HalfEatenPie

The Irrational One
Retired Staff
Avoid areas where you have to compete with Cable and DSL providers, you will lose a lot of cash that way, stay in the rural no access areas.  Don't look at what is high that you can mount on, talk to those who control the high points, even water tower access can be costly.


I have a small struggling WISP in Rock Hill SC, can't sell a damn thing, but get 5 miles out of town, and can't keep interested parties off.  So getting access out of town was the key, then once out of town, you are going to find people more receptive to the idea.  In cable areas, you'll find people are lazy as hell.  They will bitch and moan as long as you will listen about how there is no competition, offer them competition, and it's like their wallet became locked with hardened titanium impenetrable by even the sharpest diamond tipped bit.  Oh, and residential clients generally do not pay. You are their favorite lender, so a billing system is your 2nd choice so you can suspend them without effort.  There are billing modules that plug into https://www.ubnt.com/enterprise/software/ and will even enable a pay as you go system, or like I do, in my parking lot, there is open wifi, but too many local cops were sitting around, so it all redirects to http://hotmale.com now.
LOL


Hot damn Tim.  You're everywhere in Rock Hill SC!  
 

gordonrp

New Member
Verified Provider
Don't even bother looking at transmitters/receivers, tower rental, etc until you have looked at backhaul/middle mile costs. Backhaul costs in most scenarios is the reason why the costs are so high/bandwidth included on existing services is so low.


To start, what is 100mbit on 1gigabit going to cost you to get to your tower? Or even just 100mbit on 100mbit? Thousands of dollars (just for the backhaul, without IP transit).
 
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drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
To start, what is 100mbit on 1gigabit going to cost you to get to your tower? Or even just 100mbit on 100mbit? Thousands of dollars (just for the backhaul, without IP transit).
Talking about the physical fiber installation here, right?   Yeah it's expensive.  Especially when I have to trench and bury your conduit :)  Everything is by the foot.  Even if their is connectivity already, you need to run your own, usually.  I am sure there are tower brokers with bandwidth available to buy at tower.  I see the extra ports and gear here and there.  Doesn't look like they get much buy in.


It's becoming increasingly hard to do wireless on the cheap.  There are tons of regulations, FCC rules over it, unions are loosely annoying about it, tower owners bleed your face, property owners want everything done and put back to prior or better than state.  All real towers the FCC regulates and paperwork has to be done and RF engineering firm draws prints and all that jazz.  It's very expensive.  Mind you they are on licensed frequencies.  Unsure if they'll even be receptive to allowing shared band stuff up on a commercial tower.


That said, I know places where for MANY square miles cellular infrastructure is wirelessly backhauled from tower to tower.  Had the great fortune of terminating some fiber (with a backhoe) in year past which took offline quite a few towers that were backhauled to where the work was being done.  Not my problem, tower owner and engineering problem with bad blueprints and inadequate fiber path control / documentation.   That was quite a big bill and all sorts of paperwork :)  But, yeah, you can find pre-wired and low cost tie-in for IP transit if near any population center, problem is what it will cost to get that up high and beamed elsewhere and pay on that other end.


Right of way for free can happen if city owns the poles, on private commercial structures, on rural farm buildings.  All of that mostly is repeater space.


It's possible if fiber on poles where you are to get tapped out of a cabinet they have on path (given they've built out install to someone there) or picking something up at a multi tenant commercial building and hauling it away over wireless. 


Before you spend a dollar, have to line up vendors and partners and do the numbers from to back and compare to potential customers in your viewing / distribution area.   I know when Obama development money went out for broadband lots of hype about fiber and other plays.  One company we rolled miles of their fiber on poles for goes past tons of people.   Lots of grandiose subscribers in their application for dole out.  End side years out now, I don't think they hit a 20% customer adoption / subscription rate.  Meaning even though they pass tons of people and service is available, no one is buying.  Their problem?  I think their marketing is ineffective and they aren't trying.  If they paid for their network build out entirely out of pocket, they'd being going about things differently (why I detest government slush money - and the waste most of it is).
 
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