Have you ever wondered how hard it would be to start your own Internet service? I have. Every time my server goes down, I mumble under my breath about how I should start my own. Even my husband gets in on the act when he's home. Starting up your own basic Internet service is not nearly as complicated as you might think it is. While major corporations tend to rule the big megacenters of Internet connectivity in major cities and suburbs, the rural areas are still ripe for the entrepreneur to bring better services to those who can’t find adequate connections. You need some equipment and basic technological abilities, and a lot of time. The biggest hurdle for private Internet service companies is the ability to be on call 24/7 in case their server goes down.
Get funding. Check into local and federal grants and funds set up to help bring Internet service to small towns and rural areas. These funds will help get you started quicker, and easier, with the ability to connect to more people, but you will need to be good at writing grant proposals, and have a very good business plan in place that also shows the need for new services in the area you want to start up.
Rent an appropriate space. If you live in the area you wish to serve, have a big enough home, don’t mind people coming and going at all times of the day and night, and it is allowed by your zoning office, you could run your ISP from your home. Keep in mind that an Internet Service Provider company is a 24-hour a day business in the modern world. In the early days of the Internet services could get away with not being available during evening, night or weekend hours, but not anymore. People expect their Internet connection to be available, and when it’s not they expect the tech support people to be available to tell them why at all times.
Find a server to act as a backbone. The entire business of the Internet is basically a pyramid scheme. An Internet Service Provider is simply reselling the services they buy from a higher provider. You need to obtain T1 connections that you can split up to your customers. In most cases, you can put hundreds of users on one single T1 connection.
Decide on the type of connection you want to provide. Dial-up is far too out-dated to be an option. In most rural areas they already have dial-up service and they want to switch because they want, or need faster speeds and more reliable connections. The two most typical types of Internet connections for rural areas are wireless and satellite. Wireless is the only type that requires an intermediary (you), but it is somewhat more reliable than most satellite companies. If you are going to be providing ISP service to smaller towns you might be able to financially afford to lay cable which is the best form of connection when it is feasible. Depending on the type of service you decide on you will need the hardware to run it. For wireless service that includes radio receivers for each end user, a broadcasting antenna for your end, and a computer to regulate the signals.
Buy the appropriate equipment and software. You need a Primary Rate Interface (PRI) which routes traffic to the connection. Your customers will route through your PRI to the main T1 line. Between your PRI and the main source you also need servers. These servers each provide unique functions. There are separate servers for email, DNS, web browsing.
Although you can use one machine for all of the services you provide, as your company grows that may overload the system causing many failures and a lot of unhappy customers, not to mention a lot of sleepless nights for you. If at all possible ask your T1 provider if you can place the servers at their offices to make them more secure (the less distance between server and source the more stable the connection). However, it MUST also be accessible to you and your technicians so they can be repaired when they go down.
If your main ISP is too far away to travel to fix it, keep the servers closer to home. Lastly, you need a hub to connect all of the servers together for a seamless platform your users can access without even knowing they are going between one or another. The hub connects to the main access switch leading to the T1 connection so you can turn it on and off when needed for servicing.