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Starting Your Own New WISP

Antenna installation for 45networks WISP

Steve McKim shares his experience in starting a new WISP in his town, how he gets customers, and what equipment he uses.

This episode is sponsored by Metageek

Sponsored by Metageek

Starting A WISP

Antenna installation for 45networks WISP

Steve McKim, a good friend of ours, lives in Rossburn Manitoba, Canada. He recently started his own WISP to provide high speed internet to the people of his city. Steve has had previous experience in working at a WISP back in Winnipeg. So it comes natural to him. So born in Manitoba is 45networks owned and operated by Steve.

What is a WISP? It stands for Wireless Internet Service Provider. In areas where internet is slow, unreliable, and maybe over-priced, a WISP can come in and with minimal installation, provide a high speed connection. There’s no construction or trenching needed to provide this connectivity.

When it comes to starting a WISP, the first thing you need to do is come up with a business plan. Your mindset also much change to become consumer oriented. From there you work on your marketing through the newspaper, Facebook, and mailers. Steve created a survey using Google Forms which gathered many responses. This became his list of potential customers.

What does it take to build a WISP? It starts with a survey. You can begin plotting using Google Earth. A wonderful tool at your disposal! Once you’ve found your locations a physical site survey is needed. Making sure you have line of sight to your base station with no obstructions.

With the equipment Steve is using, customers can get throughput of 150-160 Mbps down and 60 Mbps up using GPS sync. The equipment he uses are Ubiquiti RocketAC Prisms. On the customer side he is deploying Ubiquiti Lite Beam Gen 2 and Nano Beam, depending on the distance.

Ubiquiti is great to use because of the cost and the tools they provide you with. When it comes to interference, Steve is able to determine what his noise floor is because of the built-in utilities.

In addition to interference, he can see his competitors’ channels being used. This is where Steve uses a static channel plan so he knows what to expect.

Some of the tips Steve wants to share are the following:

  • Plan accordingly
  • Create a link budget
  • Study local regulations
  • Learn about licensed and unlicensed frequencies
  • Learn about the effects of weather on frequency bands
  • Lear about ground reflections

Tools and Resources


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Rowell, CWNE #210, is a network engineer in Higher-Ed. He enjoys working with wireless networking technologies and loves to share and engage with the community. You can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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