[lug] OT: (I think) Starting an ISP...

Geoff Baysinger jahf at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 10 12:29:48 MST 2003

> Date:	 Mon, 3 Mar 2003 14:49:05 -0800
> From:	"Brian Jarrett" <bjarrett at garcoschools.org>
> The other possibility would be to become a full-blown ISP, but that 
> may be more than I can handle right now.  I would prefer to offer 
> others high-speed access, but DSL and CableModems are out of the 
> question, so I'd have to set up wireless too.

I'm on Nedernet, an 802.11b wireless ISP in Nederland run by
Planetmind. I've been very happy with their service, especially after
some signal strength upgrades this past December. They have a T1 hauled
up to Ned and then use 802.11b for last-mile connections with
directional antennas. http://www.nedernet.net/ if you want to read up a
bit. My main issue with the service now is that it's not encrypted
(yes, WEP is broken, but it's better than nothing, especially using
Open System if encryption and not authentication is the issue).

I'm currently using their 802.11b service through a laptop working as a
wireless bridge (though I think I'll be switching to something like
http://www.smartbridges.com/products/wireless/airbridge.php next week
to reclaim the use of my laptop). I also have an 802.11b/802.11gDRAFT
wireless router in my house next to that laptop and I don't have any
interference issues (though I did have to replace my 2.4Ghz Panasonic
phone with a 2.4Ghz Siemens phone due to interference ... everytime we
picked up the Panasonic, BLOOP, no Interenet). 

I've heard of other people doing wireless co-ops. That might be the way
to go ... if you can get enough other people interested and willing to
share the start-up cost and then recoup the costs with additional
subscribers once you get going. There are a number of WISP (wireless
ISP) equipment providers or you can roll your own hardware. There are
also some discussion forums to talk to others about issues. I'd say you
could get started for under $1000 worth of 802.11b equipment (not
counting the T1 line, that's where the money goes). Your subscribers
could start up a link for <> $200-$300 including the 802.11b ->
ethernet bridge, an antenna and mounting equipment. You'd probably need
to help with the installs. You would also need a location with very
good line of site to your planned install base, but if you don't have
such a location you could probably exchange ISP service for a place to
mount your antenna with someone else there.

There are a couple of rural CO communities (wish I had a link for you)
that have done DSL ... you have to go through a bit of a mess to
certify that you can't get DSL from Qwest or anyone else, but once done
you can use the local phone infrastructure to pass DSL to your
neighbors. You'd still need some form of T1 or similar for your
connection. I wish this was offered in Nederland (802.11b is working,
but I liked DSL's stability and the fact that it didn't put me on a
shared network of other people ... especially with 802.11b's privacy
issues) but the area isn't big enough to support 2 private broadband
co-op ISPs. You do need to make sure the local phone loops are up to
snuff ... if they're too old they may not support the copper. However,
if they do, virtually everyone in your community is going to be able to
get service from you without having to have line-of-site to a wireless
tower. DSL is probably going to have a higher initial cost, though the
long-term costs could be lower. 

I don't see you getting either of these routes off the ground in less
than 6 months, probably closer to a year. Until then you might want to
look at something like DirecWay satellites from DirecTV/Hughes.
However, barring raw bandwidth issues, 56K modems provide better
performance (latency, packet loss, etc) at a far lower cost.


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