Building a Wireless ISP Network....The Opportunity
In the US, most of the people have one or more broadband access services to choose from - variations of DSL from multiple vendors and cable. That is if you're in a metropolitan area. For more rural locations your choices are limited....if you have any at all. Therein lies an opportunity for those willing to pursue it.
In the rural areas of the country, the selection is limited. Satellite is available to anyone (at high cost), but between dial up and T1 there are no options for many residents. Satellite suffers from latency, making it unsuitable for VoIP and some other real time Internet services. Some applications that should not be sensitive to latency (email, Web forms) will perform poorly or fail due to the increased packet time.
The traditional carriers (RBOC) and resellers face a cost issue in bringing broadband service to outlying areas. Without a concentration of users the per user cost at published rates causes either a poor or negative margin. The way cost accounting is done in larger corporations makes the business case worse for a large carrier. Cost allocations between departments for such things as floor space, personnel, and backend support end up as added costs rather than leverage opportunities. Traditional wired service will not reach outlying residents unless mandated by law, and the trend is against this happening in the near future.
So the opportunity is open for a business offering Internet broadband access service to outlying residents.
Therein lies a tremendous opportunity.
Now....just how do you go about taking advantage of this opportunity, filling a need, and building a wireless ISP network?
To assist you with working through the planning and execution of this effort here are some insights and resources you should consider:
* Business Continuity Planning - This isn't the technical side of the business, the backup systems, redundant pathing, fail-over and restore, or alternate location stuff. Here you're looking at subjects such as Legal Structure, Personnel Insurance, Asset Insurance, and Process and Procedure.
* Revenue and Profit - Covers where and how to create your income including installation, basic monthly service, custom access service, volume or corporate pricing, other services, business partnerships, usage based service, civic service, and tower leasing (or you could build and probvide your own).
* Security Issues - There's much to consider in this arena. Don't overlook it.
* Bandwidth issues - The access line to your tower(s) is likely the critical factor to success. First off, it probably represents your single largest operational cost. Next, it determines the maximum quality of service you can provide.
Quotes you receive for bandwidth will probably be very different in terms of cost and performance guarantees, and should cover Performance Standards, Service Availability, Mean Time to Respond, Mean Time to Repair, Latency, Packet Loss, and Jitter. To help you search for the best match provider for your bandwidth requirements....I recommend utilizing the services of an unbiased independent broker by submitting a RFQ request to DS3-Bandwidth.com.
Here are some additional resources that may be of benefit to those developing a WISP....or thinking of it.
There's also an excellent forum for discussion of ideas and issues between WISP owners and potential developers at DSLReports.com.
Final advice....think strategically taking care to consider the business areas hilighted above. Do make use of an independent unbiased broker for the bandwidth decsion. Also, apply the resources shared here as well as any others discovered from your own research.