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View Full Version : Expanding Revenues: Creating & Managing WISPs


jeubank
07-18-2011, 02:20 AM
WISP or (Wireless Internet Service Provider) has become a massive market. Since the mid 1990ís the Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) market has grown from a cottage industry to a major provider of broadband services, including high speed data access and telephone service.

Quick Background:

PC Labs was started out of the home, from craigslist doing Repair jobs. A few hundred bucks under the belt, launch a advertisement campaign through Google Adwords - 3 months later - a small shop in a shopping mall complex / residential area behind us. PC labs is owned and operating by me. With 1 Full-Time Employee and 1 Part time employee. The Office is Leased (18-month contract)

Problem: Expand Revenue without the additional Man Hours. I like to be small. small is comfortable to me. To me, there is no competition in the Phoenix, AZ area... I consider myself that good. HOWEVER to remain small - I need to expand my business into something less labor intensive and still be worthwhile. I looked into becoming a Wireless Internet Service Provider. Nothing like monthly subscripting to spring my revenue/profits.

Solution: I deployed a Wireless Mesh Network utilizing easy to use Mesh routers. First on Top of my office space - Linked to a Computer (abandoned by customer) that ran Routing / Firewall / Logging software - and connected it to 4 (North, South, East & West) additional Wi-fi N Mesh Routers (total Cost = $637 with tax). I then sent an employee along with myself at 4 - 7am (gave him extra money) and hung door advertisements in the servicing area of at least (78 DB wireless strength).

Dont be illusioned that it is quick.. it took about 5 hours to set up the network, and about 3 hours advertising. It also took another 2 hours with Customer Service from COX to send / fax an agreement of the new Business Line Cable internet (which i think is stupid and over priced) . Stating I can share up to 40 additional "Clients" with a Capped data transmission rate of 750 GB. At a cost of $199.99 month. The plan is a 40 MB down / 15 MB UP (which means realistically about 7 MBPS and 2 MBPS up)

The service Offered: 5.5 MBPS Down / 2.5 MBPS UP for $25.95 plus 24 hour service call if it goes down. An additional plan of 12 MBPS / 5 MBPS UP for $59.99 was offered but only 1 customer chose it in the end.

First week - I got 3 customers signed up for the plan. Thats $78 month for life, and almost covers my internet bill.

Next week - I got 6 additional Customers - Thats $155 a month extra for life of the customer... covering my internet bill and a little extra a month.

We have done this going on 5 weeks now. Currently we have 28 Customers, added 2 additional Wireless Mesh Routers and pull in $760 per month. we have had 1 call regarding a slightly weak signal (Customer had a all brick hours, heavy drapes on the window - and upgraded her desktop Wifi card, with wireless-N / new Antenna *cost was $63) We charged her $75 for the service call.

An extra $500 month is significant. We can dump that money into a T-3 line, and expand our network, or just collect it - Make $6,000 extra a year.


Not saying this will work for every company/location/Internet Service Provider, etc.. However, it is a good revenue source.. relatively cheap to get into, and ya know - we really have 28 new customers who may need a computer repair when they call us!

Techless
07-18-2011, 02:55 AM
That's a good idea. I live in a tourist town and I may be able to spin it as a tourist resource. How far is your coverage area?

RichmondTech
07-18-2011, 10:57 AM
I'm assuming that when your customers sign up all you have to do is give them a wireless key for the network. Two questions:

1. What happens when your first customer drops your service and they still have your key?

2. How do you prevent your customers from giving the key to the neighbors and getting free service?

Techless
07-18-2011, 03:11 PM
I'm assuming that when your customers sign up all you have to do is give them a wireless key for the network. Two questions:

1. What happens when your first customer drops your service and they still have your key?

2. How do you prevent your customers from giving the key to the neighbors and getting free service?

I would assume he would be using the MAC address to allow the ability to connect. Another option would be a repeater bridge or wireless bridge configuration. Give the customer a wireless router that can connect to the wireless network.

colonydata
07-18-2011, 04:13 PM
I'm assuming that when your customers sign up all you have to do is give them a wireless key for the network. Two questions:

1. What happens when your first customer drops your service and they still have your key?

2. How do you prevent your customers from giving the key to the neighbors and getting free service?

i would probably use RADIUS rather than MACs

jeubank
07-18-2011, 04:21 PM
We use a "Managed" System. Allowing Access by subscriber - When they log into the Wireless Mesh Network - its open, but redirects them to our ISP page where they can call us, enter credit card information, or browse the internal site. Once they pay for 30 days, it auto logs them on, and they stay on for as long as they wish.

There is no wireless key to type in. It is an open network, that a managed router handles.


I will provide a lot more details sometime today after my jobs :)

RichmondTech
07-18-2011, 08:03 PM
We use a "Managed" System. Allowing Access by subscriber - When they log into the Wireless Mesh Network - its open, but redirects them to our ISP page where they can call us, enter credit card information, or browse the internal site. Once they pay for 30 days, it auto logs them on, and they stay on for as long as they wish.

There is no wireless key to type in. It is an open network, that a managed router handles.


I will provide a lot more details sometime today after my jobs :)

Interesting. So if my household has three computers, do I have to pay for three Internet subscriptions? And if company comes into town how do they get on?

I kinda picture it like some hotels where the wireless network is open but it redirects you to the hotel website to put in some login info. If your system is like that, that would be neat.

jeubank
07-18-2011, 10:05 PM
It is essentially like a hotel - except it is a little more robust. Accounts can add computers (Logs the MAC / Computer Name) and gives them an account. I set it to 3 Devices (2 computers and a game console) additional computers can be added for $5.00 a month.

When they start there browser it opens up our information , there account, time left, current plan, and usage details. They can exit out of it or just open a new tab, does not effect there Internet time.

They can also change there homepage back to say google.com and still have no troubles.

Auto-recuring billing, MAC Address Linked to Subscriber Account --- really easy to be honest

Rob
07-18-2011, 10:35 PM
Do you host the authentication software on your own server or is it hosted elsewhere? We use a system from Chilliwave (http://www.chilliwave.com/) that I have a love/hate relationship with, depending on how much work I have to do on it at the time ;) I have to climb a pole this morning to retrieve a dead Engenius 2610, so it's hate today (yes, that's not Chilliwave's fault, but it often cops the blame ;) ).

jeubank
07-18-2011, 10:47 PM
Do you host the authentication software on your own server or is it hosted elsewhere? We use a system from Chilliwave (http://www.chilliwave.com/) that I have a love/hate relationship with, depending on how much work I have to do on it at the time ;) I have to climb a pole this morning to retrieve a dead Engenius 2610, so it's hate today (yes, that's not Chilliwave's fault, but it often cops the blame ;) ).

The Wireless Router at the office is called a "Managed Access Point" which acts if you will, as the proxy. you can get the white-sheet on it here : http://www.teamf1.com/home/product/managed-access-point-solution-maps

Pretty much out of the box. If you have ever done wireless networking / troubleshooting. its the same HTTP web interface for configuration, and is pretty straight forward.

WOWaccess
09-03-2011, 03:23 PM
We use a product from Mikrotik for the authentication and routing. Very inexpensive and full of features.

TechLoopPC
09-04-2011, 04:23 AM
Thanks for sharing - I have always considered doing this. What type of hardware are you using for the actual wireless mesh. I am in a super-hilly area and have never had much luck with anything.

Approximately how big is your coverage area?

Rob
09-04-2011, 07:23 AM
We use a few Engenius 2610 & 1650 outdoor access points with a custom firmware that are mounted on roofs around town. They 'mesh' together and between them repeat the signal that is broadcast from our shop. A mesh system is much more effective in hilly areas than one big AP turned right up to 11.
The Chilliwave management software is hosted on our own Proxmox server. Its an interesting system and has been a very big learning curve - I value what I've learnt from it almost as much as the money I've made from it.

mygeek
09-05-2011, 04:03 AM
Rob, you mention a custom firmware for your Engenius devices, what firmware are you referring to?

WOWaccess
09-18-2011, 11:42 PM
We have all kinds of equipment depending on the application:

1) SkyPilot for a cpl of municipal wifi's (I would not recommend but it was inherited)
2) Main product we use off our towers in Chicago area is Motorola Canopy. Pricey but bullet proof. freq for AP's is mostly 5.2
3) System in Tennessee is Canopy 900mhz because of trees and hills. Lower bandwidth but it works and is stable. Mesh is great if possible but only if you can find locations to put them long term. That's why in tricky areas we stick with AP's.
4)For back hauls we have a little of everything. Motorola PTP 600 Series, Mikrotik 493AH, Ubiquity M5, and Dragonwave