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Q: I have been doing the ground work toward starting a WISP. Now I am about down to crunch time. In other words, that point where I decide whether "to do or not to do."
I am looking at providing to areas that have no other high speed options. Very rural areas, total potential customers is around 3000. I have no doubt that technically I will be able to handle this. One of my goals with this will be to make a living at it and hopefully have a little more time with the family. I realize this requires a lot of work.
My question to you is, do you feel that I can make a living at this (say within 2 years) or will this just be something that takes even more time away from the family? Also, how many of you do this for a living versus a sideline to a full-time job?
A: Here are some of the answers:
"It will end up taking a lot more time away from the family - if you think otherwise you are kidding yourself."
"For a WISP to be your sole income, you need to quickly get to a point where you are generating enough revenue to pay yourself the salary you need to survive. That requires that you initially build enough infrastructure to quickly get that critical mass of customers to begin covering your MRC (which will include your salary). Depending on the wireless architecture you select, your geography, and lots of other factors, that could require a significant investment. If you can get to that same revenue stream incrementally over 2 years while maintaining another source of income, you can probably manage the transition. However, do some math and you'll see that the number of subscribers required to produce that much income is substantial and will be more than you can handle alone. If you can bring on a few partners in the same situation you are in, it's easier."
"This might be possible depending on how you approach the job. Price your services rationally, and read a LOT about equipment before you buy it."
Q: More time with the family?
"No, don't look for this for at least a couple of years. There's so much more than merely installing antennas and buying a T1. The administration of a business is a full-time job in itself. You'll be doing at least three people's work: Executive, technician, and administrator. You'll be on the road a lot. You'll be climbing up on things... Join the mailing lists for WISPers and read the archives, especially the "war stories." The strongest list is WISP@part-15.org. You don't have to join Part-15 to join the list. The other list is email@example.com. As far as I know, the two lists and this forum are the main nexuses for members of the fixed wireless Internet industry. "
"When you first start out expect the unexpected. You will spend days if not weeks or months like I did trying to figure out this and that. If you use the right gear for your application things seem to become stable at some point. At least for me anyway. Once things become stable you will reach a bump in the road here and there. The last three months have been smooth for me. No problems to speak of. As far as financially only you can be the judge of that. You need to have a very good business plan and see if the numbers work. Just my 2 cents."
Q: One of my goals with this will be to make a living at it and hopefully have a little more time with the family.
"The only way you are going to see this happen is if the spouse is the admin, your 2 kids, or as many as you have, are the installers and you handle the marketing and sales. IMHO."
"To give you a brutally honest answer, I am a computer scientist (I mean a "for real" Computer Scientist with a degree). When I worked for the Navy, I was paid about 38k. When I worked for TRACOR, I was paid about 48k, when I worked for E-Systems I was paid about 90k... Today I am building a WISP, we are 2.5 years into the project, I make (before taxes) 14.4k... That is the down side. I work as essentially as a consultant, someone else owns the business and he cuts the pay checks. His check is SLIGHTLY SMALLER than mine... He is one hell of a good young man, with investors."
"The up side is that I go to work when I want. I leave work when I want and I get to play with the toys I want to play with."
"You will never get rich running an ISP (WISP), but you might make a nice family business of it. It will not be easy. Hell, it will NEVER be easy but if you want it you can do it."
"I've been building ISP's in Eastern Virginia for about eight years now. By that I mean that I have a habit of taking a young person in tow and showing them the ropes until they are able to fend for themselves."
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