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.

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

This site is a work in progress!

Only some of the content is up so far and there’s still some bugs in the interface. Check out the changelog to see what’s new.

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!