Start Your Own ISP

This site is dedicated to helping you start your own Internet Service Provider. Specifically this guide is about building a Wireless ISP (WISP).

This guide is focused on the very earliest stages of starting a WISP - determining feasibility up through connecting the first few customers. There are many challenges that will come up at 100, 1,000 or 10,000 customers that are not (yet) covered in this guide.

Announcing ConCon 2021!

Coming in Spring 2021: startyourownisp.com's first ever Connectivity Conference! Experienced professionals at ConCon 2021 will provide real world, practical, battle-tested advice on how to plan, finance, and build networks that improve connectivity in our communities. Sign up now to receive an early registration special of 25% off the regular price and to receive updates about the conference details. If you have any questions or if you would like to sponsor the event please reach out to us at concon@startyourownisp.com.

ConCon 2021 will be entirely virtual due to Covid. Presentations will be pre-recorded and distributed to all attendees ahead of time. During the conference each presenter will lead a live video conference Q&A session. Attendees will be able to attend as many of the live sessions as they'd like.

  • Sign up here for an Early Registration Special! $99 $74 per person, $299 $224 for teams of up to 5, $499 $374 for teams of up to 10. All prices USD.
  • Exact dates TBD, sometime in Spring 2021
  • Interested in sponsoring the event? We have marketing partnerships and sponsorships available. Connect with us at concon@startyourownisp.com.

ConCon 2021 Topics will include

  • Building practical community networks
  • Overview of available opportunities for financing a network including government grants
  • Finding fiber backhaul partners
  • Finding the right people for your project - employees, contractors, and volunteers
  • Intro to fiber to the home - is fiber right for your community?
  • Building wireless networks in challenging environments
  • Cutting edge product presentations from vendors

Topics will be presented by

  • Successful DIY Community network builders
  • Industry veterans
  • Vendors who provide useful products and services for the community
  • Interested in presenting a topic? Apply here to be a presenter.

Community

If you’d like personalized assistance with a project feel free to book some time with me.

Join the discussion! Chat with me (the author) and others interested in this kind of thing here: #startyourownisp:matrix.org.

Follow Along on Twitter @syoisp

Getting Started

What is a WISP? And why might you want to build one? Also defines some terminology.

Costs What does it cost to build a wireless Internet Service Provider? (Link to a Google Sheet that you can copy and customize.)

About Me Who am I? Why am I doing this?

Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Evaluate an Area: Make sure your area is a good candidate for a Wireless Internet network.

Step 2: Find a Fiber Provider: Find a building where you can purchase a fiber connection and use the rooftop to start your wireless network.

Step 3: Find Relay Sites: Extend your network wirelessly toward your customers.

Step 4: Pick a Hardware Platform: Evaluate available options for wireless hardware.

Step 5: Billing and Customer Management: Make sure you’re able to get paid and support your customers.

Step 6: Network Topology: Design your network topology to make your network reliable and scalable. Routers, switches, IP addresses, VLANs, etc.

Step 7: Build your Infrastructure: Install hardware for your fiber connection and your relay sites.

Step 8: Install a Customer: Get your first customer online!

Step 9: Marketing: Let people know about your service so they can experience a better Internet connection!

Step 10: Maintenance: Keep your network running smoothly, even in bad weather.

Miscellaneous

Form 477: How to prepare and file with the FCC Form 477 is used by the FCC to determine which providers are servicing which areas. ISPs must file this form twice a year.

Tools you’ll want to have A list of the tools you’ll need to install relays sites and customers.

Aim a Backhaul A guide describing the proper techniques for aiming backhauls. Designed to be printed out and taken to the site for reference.

Backhaul List If you just need to get a solid wireless connection from Point A to Point B then use this list to pick the right equipment and get it set up.

RF Basics and Channel Planning Avoid self interference by carefully choosing channels for your access points and backhauls.

MDUs (Multiple Dwelling Units) Best practices for providing service to apartment buildings, condos, attached townhomes, etc.

Guide to Google Earth Some tips and tricks for using Google Earth to plan and build your network.

Roof and Ladder Safety Stay safe out there!