Want High Speed Internet? Try a WISP

According to the cable and phone companies, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are the only way to get high speed Internet access. And most people really believe that. Still, for thousands of people living in the Laurentians' rural areas that have been left behind, the wind of change has come, in the form of wireless Internet service providers-WISP for short. What is a WISP?

A WISP is a Wireless Internet Service Provider. WISPs offer broadband Internet services to business and residential customers utilizing radio-based point-to-multipoint networks. Most WISPs utilize equipment which operates in the license-free spectrum (900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz) to deliver "last mile" access. With the right equipment, a WISP can offer their customers very dependable, high speed, always-on, broadband Internet access service. Some providers are also deploying the new licensed spectrum of 3.65 GHz which offers greater speed and loading capacity. This service is also commonly known as WIMAX.

"The cable and phone companies ignore so many people in rural Laurentians, and oftena WISP isone of the only choices. If it weren't for WISPs, whole towns would be without the Internet. The reason for this is the high cost of pulling and installing cables and running physical infrastructure to provide high speed Internet. Given the current economic situation, cable and phone companies are not seeking to invest in low growth and a low margin customer base. These companies look at return on investment and want a one year payback. In rural areas this is just not possible. In reality, most customers don't care what technology is used.

A WISP's antennae are mounted on towers and instead of pointing toward the sky, they point to a subscriber's antenna on a home or business. The tower is connected to high speed fibre optic lines through the ground or by long-range microwave that connect back to the Internet. This is a terrestrial network that mostly uses line of sight and non line of sight antennae over short to medium distances of hundreds to thousands of feet as opposed to a satellite system where the distances are measured in tens of thousands of kilometres. The later has very high latency.

One of the reasons that the WISP opportunity has created a real businesses has come from the incumbent's lack of respect, particularly for rural customers. There's this idea that rural communities aren't technologically savvy and why would they need high speed anyways. That could not be farther from the truth. People choose to live outside the cities, but still want to be connected to work, friends, family and the information available on the Internet. With more people tele-commuting or starting/running a home based business, Internet access is a must. In today's world, one could venture to say that Internet should be considered an essential service.

The benefits of having a WISP in your area or working with a WISP to bring high speed Internet to your area are threefold.

1. Speed of Deployment

Since there are no wires running from the service provider to the customer all a WISP needs is to do is place a tower in a strategic location to serve homes and businesses around the tower. Within 30 days, a WISP can, for example, study an area with 100 potential customers, locate the correct place for a tower and possible repeater sites and start installing the tower. Within 45 days, its first customers on that tower start enjoying high speed Internet and cancel their dial-up service.

2. Turn Key Installation

Once the tower is up, a technician is deployed to the home or business and places a book size antenna on the roof facing the tower. A wire runs into the home or business and connects to a router. The computers connect to the router via Ethernet cable or wirelessly. Most installations take just 1-2 hours.

3. Competitive Price

Most WISP pricing is competitive to what cable or phone companies charge and most have a few rate plans. Some have started to offer phone service using the Internet, called Voice of Internet Protocol (VoIP). When VoIP and Internet are bundled, a WISP's price offering is usually a much better deal.

So, if you want high speed Internet, and even phone service, why not try a WISP?


MARVIN GARELLEK completed his Bachelor of Commerce in 1983 at Concordia University and has been an entrepreneur ever since. In August of the same year Marvin launched and ran a marketing communications/advertising agency until 1992 that had a range of clients in the skate, hotel, lighting and technology sectors which he later sold to a multinational ad agency. In 1992 Marvin founded Internet Capital Bulletin Board Inc., and developed Plan A™ Business PlanWorks software that has been Suc...

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