Starting a WISP 101: Must-have resources
Today, there are over 1500 Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) providing fixed wireless internet services in the United States— a pretty amazing feat knowing that the majority of WISP founders are local residents on a mission to better the internet connectivity of the communities in which they live. At Minim, we work with WISPs every day on quality and secure WiFi delivery. And, as a WISPA vendor, we are always interested in learning about how WISPs can be best supported in the broadband industry. If you are interested in starting a WISP, we've compiled (in no particular order) some of the key resources available to help you get your WISP off the ground.
The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) is an organization solely dedicated to advocating for the WISP business in the broadband industry and providing key resources aimed at helping WISPs grow. Comprised of more than 800 members including WISPs, equipment suppliers, vendors, and consultants, WISPA acts as your one-stop shop for learning from those already in the field and staying up-to-date on key industry events and developments. Check out the WISPA News feed to learn about the latest in the industry.
WISPA also holds annual networking and community events to connect WISPA members and various support services. If you are interested in learning more about what these kinds of events entail and how they can be helpful to your WISP, check out our WISPAPALOOZA 2018 event recap. In the recap, we highlight some key considerations to have when starting a WISP— from the eyes of WISPs themselves!
Additionally, you can also join the WISPA Facebook group, which is open to both members and non-members of WISPA. Here, you will be able to participate in industry-related discussions and further connect with fellow WISPs.
Startyourownisp.com is an online community built for those interested in starting a WISP. The site addresses the initial steps you'll need to take, from evaluating your target area and finding relay sites to designing your wireless network, choosing the right hardware platform, building out your infrastructure, and actually getting customers online. Here, you will also find helpful resources, such as:
- A Cost Estimate Google Sheet that can be customized.
- A list of tools that you will need to install relay sites and set up customers.
- A Form 477 Guide that describes how to file the FCC-mandated form, which must be filed by ISPs twice a year.
3. WBA Annual Industry Report
The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) is an association in the broadband industry aimed at promoting development and adoption within the global wireless ecosystem. Each year, WBA publishes an annual report that covers both the past year's milestones and the present year's predictions as they relate to WiFi and adjacent technologies. Some key points discussed in the 2019 WBA Annual Industry Report include the impact that widespread IoT adoption has had on WiFi performance, the ability to expand WiFi reach into new unlicensed bands, and the convergence of WiFi and 5G.
4. Equipment Distributors
An important consideration for any WISP when starting out is choosing a hardware platform. Startyourownisp.com provides a hardware platform overview, which lists some of the top WISP hardware manufacturers. Once you are ready to purchase said equipment, we suggest you find an equipment distributor. Not only can an equipment distributor provide great prices for the equipment volume you are looking for, but some also provide technical services, training, consultations, financing, and even repairs.
One such distributor is Double Radius, who since 2001 has been helping businesses across numerous industries deliver stronger networks. Double Radius supports WISPs in the broadband industry and provides a Wireless Internet Service Provider Guide that includes more tips and tricks to consider when starting a WISP.
Remember that Form 477 we mentioned earlier? Well, the data that's collected via that form is supplied to BroadbandNow, the largest database and search engine of broadband providers. This is a great tool to use to scope out the competition in your target area and to also stay up-to-date on the growing number of WISPs in the U.S. It's also worth mentioning that BroadbandNow is a key resource for consumers as they seek out the best internet service in their area. Check out BroadbandNow's Fixed Wireless Broadband overview to see what's noted for consumers to think about when choosing a fixed wireless internet service.
Stay tuned for more...
Starting a WISP is no easy task, but we hope these resources are helpful to you in your endeavor to do so! Stay tuned for more, as we'll continue to update this resource list, share on further considerations to have when starting a WISP, and highlight some WISP best practices.
Tweet us @MinimSecure with questions, comments, or input for fellow/aspiring WISPs!