Category Archives: Starting a WISP

Mar 2014

WISP Wholesale Internet Access

Internet Gateway:  Finding Fiber

You’ve found your market, they want broadband, and you’ve identified some good tower locations to get service to their homes.   Now you need to secure a high volume of quality broadband Internet to your towers – but how do you do that?

The first step is finding the closest fiber “point of presence” (POP).   This is a location where you can “co-locate” (ie. place your equipment) that has access to a nationwide fiber backbone.   One important caveat – you need real dedicated fiber here. Verizon FIOS or Comcast Xfinity are both delivered over a fiber optic cable, but they aren’t dedicated. They are built on a shared technology called GPON.  For more on this, as well as an explanation of why cable modems, DSL, and “business Internet” won’t work for gateway – see our article on Non-Dedicated Gateway.

The best place to obtain fiber is a data center, as they will usually have several providers to choose from so you can get a great rate.  However, if you’re in the middle of nowhere (the best place to be a WISP!), you probably don’t have access to one nearby.   The next best place to check is large hotels (see if management can tell you where they get service), or large office towers.  If you don’t have any of these options then you’ll have to build wireless “backhauls” to get it out to you.

Swift Fox has a big list of locations and pricing for various fiber providers throughout most of the US and Canada, feel free to contact us and we can help find the options closest to you.

Knowing the Lingo:  What to ask for

When you’re shopping around for wholesale Internet, you have to be v

Author: Matt Beaton

Feb 2014

I found cheap “Business Internet” in my town!  Will that work for my WISP?

Your local cable or phone company might offer “Business Internet” packages over DSL/Cable/GPON, and they may even provide some rather large ones, say 100mbit down and 10mbit up.   It’s cheap and available in your area, so why not use that for your main gateway?

Technically you could if these were dedicated 100mbit as they would be a great Internet gateway to start out with. Unfortunately, these connections are not dedicated, they are “oversubscribed”.  Oversubscription is part of the key to how broadband works, and how you can get huge amounts of throughput for cheap as a residential or small business consumer.  Providers will never say it is oversubscribed though, and dedicated is often bandied around by telcos as a marketing term when it is not really dedicated at all.

What you really need is a product called “unmetered dedicated ethernet with 95th percentile billing”, that is normally sold by the large business division of an ISP, or by a company that sells exclusively to other ISPs.   See our article on Wholesale Internet Access for more on how to find a provider like this.

Oversubscription Ratios:  Why Dedicated is the Only Option

Broadband works on the same principle as the sewer and water lines in a city.  If everyone flushed their toilet on a street at the same time, it would overload the system!  When utilities are built, the assumption is that only some people will be using them at any given time, so they oversubscribe the system.  Broadband works the same way.   As an ISP, you might buy 50mbit of gateway, and then sell 200 x 5mbit residential connections on

Author: Matt Beaton

Dec 2013

Considering a new business idea?  How about a WISP?

Considering a new business idea? How about a WISP?

Who needs you the most? Places without broadband at all!

When most folks think of ISPs, they think of the cable company and the phone company – and they don’t have a great reputation.   As an independent Wireless Internet Service Provider, you have the chance to challenge that – and provide an awesome service for a reasonable price.  But people will be skeptical at first, or they might be on a contract and can’t easily switch providers.

When starting a WISP the first thing to go after is the highest density of homes that have no option at all besides dial-up or satellite.  To be honest, there aren’t many of these markets left – they’re becoming very rare.  But if you can find this mythical market, you have it easy.  Nobody likes dial-up, and satellite is laggy and expensive.

How do you find these places?  Unfortunately, the best option still seems to be to drive around and ask people.  Ask at the local computer store, gas stations, or if you have friends in the area.  If people are stuck with dial-up, they’ll be very excited to help you start a WISP bringing broadband to their area.

Do not trust the excited local who insists there are no options in their area.  They have not done all the research and even if they claim “I know everyone!” they may not have been asking the right questions or they may have honest but ulterior motives.  Where to open coverage is one of the most important decisions faced by an ISP, don’t cut corners or leave it up to others to do the research.

Competing against another WISP:  Doing it better for cheaper

More likely than the above, you’ll be i

Author: Matt Beaton