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How to Get a Wireless ISP Built in Your Town

Apr. 4, 2006 - Welcome to the final article in BWE's series of "How-To" articles that focus on building broadband wireless networks in areas that desperately need high-speed Internet connections.

This week's article is focused on how to get a broadband wireless network built in your neighborhood, city or town, even if you personally cannot afford it.

Once you have determined there is a true demand for high-speed Internet service, conducted wireless site surveys and found several good base station sites, secured pricing for Internet backhaul circuits and selected the proper networking equipment, the final step is to find someone to help you plan, design and build your first broadband wireless cell site.

If you want to do most of the work yourself, it might be best to hire an experienced consultant that can guide you through the process of building a wireless network.

In addition to hiring a consultant, it would also be very wise to buy a book called, " Deploying License-Free Wireless Wide Area Networks," by Jack Unger and/or take one of BWE's WISP training classes that will teach you the real world skills needed to build and operate a WISP.

If you donít have the time, but do have a good budget to work with, you should consider hiring a systems integrator such as Michwave Technologies. A systems integrator will specify the equipment, plan security strategies, prepare the network management platform, build the network and train your staff on how to maintain and expand the network once it is up and running.

Before hiring a consultant or system integrator, make sure you talk to several of existing customers as well as many of the WISP's actual subscribers as possible. Many WISPs will tell you great stories about their equipment or their network operations. However, the most dependable people to listen to are the WISPs actual subscribers. Subscribers always tell you the truth about what they like or what they hate about a WISP's operations. They can also give you a good idea of what kind of technical support you'll need to offer.

Also ask to see a profit and loss statement from the WISP. This will show you if they are actually making a profit as well as what their biggest liabilities are. Large amounts of old, unused equipment is a telltale sign of equipment that didn't work like the manufacturer said it would.

Over 58% of WISP startups are financed by the owner's checkbook or credit cards. The majority of WISPs are started with a single cell. The WISP fills up the first cell up with customers, and then launch a second, then a third, etc.

If you have no money, and live in a rural area, you should check with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which approves millions of dollars in grants each year for towns with less than 20,000 people. Be advised that the grant forms are long and are time consuming to fill out, but can be very lucrative source of funding if you can win one.

Another option is the Small Business Administration (SBA), which will assist any entrepreneur or small business with a good business plan. The SBA is usually very helpful in finding the right resources to help small business launch their first business.

There are also businesses known as lease finance companies that will provide the necessary financing to fund equipment-lease agreements for both operators and their customers to lease equipment versus the operator having to buy the equipment upfront. Agility Solutions is a lease finance company that specializes in Wireless ISPs.

If you don't have the credit to borrow money or don't want to spend the time looking for venture capital, there are experienced companies like Hindsight Wireless that will come to your town and build a wireless ISP at no cost to you. You simply tell them about your town and how many potential customers they might be able to sign up. They do the rest.

In conclusion, almost any town that wants high-speed Internet connections can build a network using broadband wireless technology. The costs will vary depending on how large of a system you want to build and the type of terrain and local resources you have available, but one thing is for sure. The capital expenditure required to build a wireless Internet network is significantly lower than building a wired system that requires running a wire to every single residence and business in town.

If you would like to read all the articles in this series, or an expanded version of this article, you can read them online at:

More details on how to build a WISP or Wi-Fi Hotspot are available on BWE's main website located at


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