My short bio: I've been married 13 years and have 3 children. I am a retired Light Infantry Medic that has served in Afghanistan. I have always been a major tech enthusiast. My wife and I decided to move into a nice mountain rural community and discovered the internet out here is over-priced ($80/mo) and ridiculously slow (3mbps downlink) or non-existent. So, we decided to do something about it.

My wife /u/shakktii is a Network and Support Engineer for a major tech company. She and I have been working together on this. Also, she wants me to inform you that I am her trophy husband and she is the funding for this enterprise

My Proof:


What kind of line are you using for your main connection?

We are using a 10gbps dedicated fiber line that is connected to a telecom fiber node. The fiber node connection service is scalable in increments of 100mbps. We are starting off with 1gbps and scaling up from there, as needed.

What equipment are you using?

NetVanta 5660 Fiber Router

Linksys LGS124

2x AF24HD

2x APC Smart-UPS C 1000VA

4x Rocket 5AC Prism Gen2

4x AM-5AC21-60

NSM5 for customer antennas.

How much are you charging?

Speed Monthly Price
25mbps $50
50mbps $80
100mbps $125

Are there data caps?


How many customers will you need to break even?

24 households. That's at a 25/25/50 distribution for 100/50/25mbps plans.

Are you a real ISP?

Yes. Our customers have public facing IP addresses with our fiber router acting as a gateway. Our company is a registered ISP in our state.

What will happen to you if someone illegally torrents on your service?

Nothing will happen to us. The customer with the offending IP address will receive a written warning.

If there's a change, will the net neutrality change affect your business?

No. We will not change our ISP business practice. We will continue to be net neutral. It will not affect our enterprise dedicated fiber line either.

Can I get your service?

Our service is limited to the Liberty & Eden, UT area right now.

What was the hardest thing about setting up your business?

Finding the nearest fiber node and setting up the fiber trunk line was by far the most difficult thing. The rest was research and network mapping.

What's your plan for expansion in the future?

As of right now, we want to create the best internet service provider we can for our community. We have no plans of expanding further than our area in the near future.

Are you hiring?

No. We are not looking for any employees at the moment. I am retired and my wife is a network engineer. If the project becomes overwhelming in the distant future, we might consider hiring someone.

What are you going to do if your ISP figures out what you're doing?

They are well aware of what we are doing and it is included in our contract with them.

Comments: 2287 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

sock20142711 karma

How many customers do you need to break even?

A year from now, if a customer was going through some hard times, and was two months late on payment, what would be your policy on cutting them off?

Michamus5931 karma

How many customers do you need to break even?

I would require 24 customers to break even on operating expenses and capital investment.

A year from now, if a customer was going through some hard times, and was two months late on payment, what would be your policy on cutting them off?

We're actually considering a community outreach for low-income and elderly people in our area. We would provide them with free internet access. Seeing as we're in a tight-knit community, I would find out they hit hard times before they even missed their first payment. The fact is, we can cover our operating expenses on my wife and my salaries alone. We are simply doing this project as a service to our community.

DeepSeaDynamo1426 karma

What are your thoughts on expanding beyond your own neighborhood in the future?

Michamus2508 karma

I'm not sure. On one hand, it gives the opportunity for a lot more revenue. On the other, it transforms the company from a small community project to an actual business endeavor. I think I'd be willing to do it so long as I could find a way that doesn't actually impact service quality.

IorekHenderson2300 karma

Franchise it.

Michamus2431 karma

That's actually not a bad idea.

cenobyte40k173 karma

I live in a rural community (Southern VA) with no access to broadband at all (Other than 4g which is spotty). I have been thinking on and off for a long time about starting a WISP like yours but really don't know where to start. I am a IT Systems Engineer with loads of networking experience (Although more an applications system engineer now than anything to do with the network itself). If you do decide that you would like to figure out how to expand or are willing to work with someone to help start a new project other places I would be VERY interested. Thanks...

Michamus182 karma

I wouldn't mind collaborating with you. It really depends on your location. I'm fortunate that my area is a mountain valley and that there are homes up on the mountainside. I am basically beaming a direct 2gbps signal to the mountainside home with zero trees blocking valley view. Then I'm setting up 4x 45-degree 500mbps antennas to broadcast to the whole valley with a completely unimpeded line of sight. If an area becomes more congested than others, I can simply add another antenna.

wanab33ninja116 karma

I also have been very interested in a WISP for a rural community in Montana / Idaho. May I contact you to get some more information regarding the fiber purchasing process? I am quite familiar with Ubiquiti radios, so I feel the business side of things would be the hardest part.

Michamus132 karma

Yes, you may! Idaho and Montana are probably great analogs for the environment I'm in.

notananthem44 karma

How easy is this to replicate?

Michamus167 karma

If you have $40k and are within 3 miles of a fiber node, you can replicate it pretty easily. I'm simply using off-the-shelf equipment for long range wifi connections with clear LOS.

If you live in a suburban area though, you're probably going to run into issues with trees blocking LOS. However, you won't need as much startup capital as you're usually within a couple hundred feet of a fiber node.

toaurdethtdes952 karma

Hardest obstacle you’ve had to overcome to make this happen?

Also you’re doing some amazing work.

Michamus1204 karma

Getting the fiber line to an actual completion date. It required so much red tape and capital, it's ridiculous. The permits alone took a couple months.

Wretschko605 karma

Did you have to overcome any bureaucratic hurdles, i.e. local/county/state approval? I'm asking because I thought that a lot of PUCs passed regulations prohibiting competition and giving monopolies to the Big Players. I'm looking at you, Arizona Corporation Commission and Cox, you bastards.

Michamus635 karma

Yes, yes and yes. Easement rights are a big pain, but luckily Centurylink played nice since I'm using them for my fiber node tie-in. It took several months for permits and planning to get an actual completion date forecasted.

gonzoforpresident404 karma

What technology are you using to provide service?

Who are you using as your backbone provider?

How many households will you be able to service with your initial setup?

Michamus717 karma

What technology are you using to provide service?

We're running a fiber backbone to a tower. The tower currently has AirFiber WiFi dishes. A corresponding AirFiber dish will be installed on each customer's roof. This wifi network creates an internal network with a 1 to 5ms latency.

Who are you using as your backbone provider?

We ran our own dedicated fiber line that is connected to the nearest Centurylink Fiber Node. The connection has a scalable dedicated capacity of 10gbps.

How many households will you be able to service with your initial setup?

Initial setup will be able to serve 100 households at a contention ratio of 3:1. This is actually the best contention ratio in the state, with Centurylink's Urban Fiber being 10:1 and Comcast's Urban Gigabit being 12:1.

ShittyFieldTech190 karma

You're installing dedicated radios for each customer? You're not doing PtMP? Ooooh that's interesting. What's your equipment cost per customer?

Michamus340 karma

The dedicated radios substantially decrease latency. Basically, it will be NSM5 -> Tower AF-5X Receiver -> Fiber. The tower has 4 AF-5X on 45-degree antennas that will broadcast to its 120-degree view of the valley.

Equipment cost will be $120 to $150 per install. Customers will be charged a $100 install fee and they will own the equipment.

ShittyFieldTech190 karma

oh okay, you are doing PtMP. That's good. I thought you were putting up microwave links on each house. I was wondering how damn tall your tower was.

Did you build a tower? Leasing?

Show us some pictures of your buildout!

Michamus251 karma

As of right now, the "Tower" is basically a mountainside home's roof with a clear LOS of the whole valley. My buildout is:

1x NetVanta 5660

1x Linksys LGS124

2x APC Smart-UPS C 1000VA

2x AF24HD

2x Rocket 5AC Prism Gen2

2x AM-5G17-90

CrackerRiley110 karma

Ubiquiti AirFiber5x? Those aren't PtMP currently. They have plans to make their LTU stuff "like airFibers but ptmp."

Michamus199 karma

I'm an idiot. The AF-5X is direct line mapping I was thinking about implementing higher speeds with. Its the RP‑5AC‑Gen2 with an AM-5G17-90.

gets_that_reference_57 karma

I paid $100 to own my centurylink modem, so the price point is about right, especially if you're offering better, cheaper service than them.

Michamus29 karma


xanokk55 karma

What are the legal ramifications of this? If I'm understanding correctly, which maybe I'm not, you're basically the middle man for a community funded century link line? Is it possible the ISPs will crack down on this? And how will the net neutrality fight impact you? Can you bypass your providers restrictions and pass it to your customers?

Michamus197 karma

As far as ISPs cracking down on this, Centurylink is fully aware of what I'm doing. They are quite happy with the price I am paying for the dedicated bandwidth access for my fiber line. Also, my only competition is another bloated, overpriced and underperforming wireless ISP. The maximum bandwidth they provide is just over half my minimum and is the same price, not to mention a 250gb data cap. So, unless Centurylink plans on rolling out DSL to my customers, they're perceiving me as a revenue stream.

Kicker77450 karma

How much bandwidth would a customer need to use to the point you would be taking a loss on their monthly subscription cost?

Michamus125 karma

At my maximum contention ratio of 5:1, a 25mbps customer would have to use 13.4TB of data download before they started overstepping their connection bounds.

Kicker774105 karma

Now that people know how to take advantage of you, better write a monthly 13 TB data cap into your contracts.

Michamus172 karma

No joke! I better watch out!

When I did the math it made me realize how absurd ISP data caps are.

Here, enjoy 250mbps with a 1TB cap. Hope you weren't planning on using more than a sustained 5mbps.

Emerald_Flame41 karma

How much does your backbone connection cost in recurring fees?

Michamus91 karma

$2k/mo per gigabit.

Dushmanius25 karma

Ok so I am not getting this. It costs you 2k per gig or in your case it is 20k per month. Above you said you need 24 customers to break even on the operating costs. Assuming you have at least some overhead you are charging 1k per month per customer?

Michamus63 karma

It's scalable. The line I ran has a capacity of 10gbps. I am starting with 1gbps. Hope that helps!

Emerald_Flame23 karma

Not gonna lie, that's significantly more expensive then I would have thought, but I've never really liked into it before too.

Where did you even go to find information on pricing for a straight up backbone connection?

Michamus41 karma

I went straight to the enterprise solutions department of my telco. I asked where their nearest fiber node was that I could tie into with a dedicated 10gbps connection.

Another_Desk_Jockey5 karma

So you're providing 100 homes a 30mbps down link for $2k a month?

Michamus12 karma

My website has my pricing. It is $50 for 25mbps, $80 for 50mbps and $125 for 100mbps.

NoStupidQuestion361 karma

Essentially, you've paid for a business level fiber connection and will be selling connection through yours?

Michamus341 karma

Yes. It is a 10gbps fiber line we paid to run to the nearest Centurylink Fiber Node. We'll be using AirFiber WiFi dishes to distribute the connection from a tower to households.

Kael_Alduin125 karma

How would weather affect that connection?

Michamus309 karma

The fiber line itself wouldn't be affected by weather. So long as there isn't snow obstructing the antennas and wind speeds don't exceed 150kmh, the antennas will transmit just fine.

loinfroth28 karma

how much is cost?

Michamus113 karma

$30k to run the line and $2k/mo per gigabit. Equipment and tower costs were $10k. I've done a lot of the work myself, which has saved a considerable amount of money.

FFLink46 karma

So $20k a month for your 10Gbps line?

Michamus97 karma

It's scalable in increments of 100mbps. My line capacity is 10gbps, however, I am starting out with 1gbps access.

JoeyJoeC23 karma

Don't know much about these wireless connections, but I assume all is encrypted and no one can connect to someone elses connection etc?

Michamus70 karma

Yes. It is all encrypted and no one can connect to someone else's connection. Well, unless they have an open WiFi router. In that case, it would only impact the customer who did such a thing and anyone within router range.

a_frayn343 karma

Do most homes in your area already have access to DSL or cable infrastructure?

Michamus565 karma

Actually, no. We're basically at the end of our road for DSL access and there is no cable access. The fastest DSL connection we can get is 3mbps at $80/mo. There are nearly 100 homes within 5km of my home that must rely on aged and overpriced wireless internet. They charge $50/mo for up to 10mbps with a 250gb data cap. From talking to my neighbors, they are actually paying $150-$200 a month for a high-latency wireless connection that peaks at 10mbps.

zhongl0395 karma

I just want to say, reading from this thread, internet in the US seems really expensive and freaking slow... I'm in Chengdu, China, I get 200mbps fiber and 40GB 4G data on mobile for 199rmb/mo, about 30usd/mo. I also bought a VPS server in the US to bypass the GFW, and on a good day, I can get over 30mbps accessing YouTube. That traffic went across the whole Pacific Ocean...

Michamus50 karma

When I lived in the city, a 250mbps connection was 4 times that amount.

Areos8531 karma

Dude I feel you I've got 500kbps for $60 month sucks But we are getting cable soon I can see the workers putting up the cables from my window.

Michamus24 karma

Best of luck to you! I've always had great experiences with cable internet.

justinhamlett327 karma

First, I want to say thanks for putting in the effort to provide quality Internet access at a reasonable price.

Mainly, I'm curious about the initial process of starting your own ISP. For example, roughly how much money would I need in the beginning to start an ISP similar to yours (securing a fiber connection, basic equipment, etc). I know you said you live in a small mountain community, so I'm guessing getting the first couple of customers was easy but did you ever have any issues with customers worrying about a small business providing reliable Internet?

Michamus396 karma

My family has established quite the reputation for quality up here. So, getting customers on board with quality expectations was pretty easy. Also, neighbors have been bragging to their neighbors about their soon-to-be fast cheap connection, which has drummed up more prospects. I already have several customers pledged to the highest speed package.

As for the cost, it was $30k to run the fiber line and the dedicated access fee is $2k/gigabit. The tower and equipment cost $10k. I've done most of the work myself, which has saved us a lot of money.

TroperCase212 karma

Since the Net Neutrality debate is currently red-hot, what is your opinion on it, and, independent of your personal thoughts, do you think slashing it would be good, bad, or a mix of both for the company?

Michamus515 karma

I think Net Neutrality is critical for economic growth. Small businesses wouldn't be able to compete with larger companies that can simply pay for a fast lane to customers. I also think it is totally unethical, considering there is ample existing infrastructure to tie into and companies are already making massive revenue off it.

For instance, if I were to use Centurylink's contention ratio, I would be able to make 4 times the revenue of my operating expenses.

Slashing net neutrality seems like a huge step in the wrong direction to me. I grew up when home internet was brand new, slow and expensive. I really hope that 25 years later we don't end up with it being that way again.

mog-pharau146 karma

Hey! Wow, I used to be in this business. It's a tough one, so kudos.


Do you climb the towers to place the distribution antennas yourself? I ask because, the first time I climbed a 200' tower, I was terrified. They couldn't get me on the 300' towers.

You mentioned you're using AirFiber for the distribution points. TBH, that's a product I have no experience with. Have you ever considered making your own with Mikrotik Routerboard based radios? Back in the day, we found it extremely cost effective and flexible. Are the AirFiber products better when you consider cost/performance/ease-of-setup/management? I bet the Mikrotik board solutions only win on the cost part.

How big of an area are you serving? I may have made an assumption that you had to set up multiple towers.

Thanks for this AMA!

Michamus171 karma

I will be using a mountainside roof with a clear LOS of the whole community's section of the valley for a "tower". I eventually want to set up a dedicated tower with a vantage of the entire valley. I hate heights, so I'd likely hire a contractor for that work.

AirFiber is extremely low latency and high bandwidth. Each of the 4 propagation antennas has a 500mbps throughput at a range of 100km. The main trunk relay has a 2gbps throughput at a range of 20km. The 500mbps antennas have a 45-degree reliable coverage area (they can cover up to 80 degrees, however, I prefer staying in a comfortable margin). The internal wireless network latency is 1-5ms between customer and fiber.

I have zero experience with building routerboards and radios. These products are relatively cheap, high bandwidth and extremely reliable, so I decided to go with them.

MilitaryFish122 karma

From what I understand you're providing wireless internet using a 10gbps fiber line to a century link tower correct? You say you can service up to 100 clients, would that fiber line be limiting people to certain plans or everyone gets the same rate? By rate I mean price and actual speeds.

For example 100 people from a 10gbps line means like 100mbps line each right? If it's wireless are you limited by wireless speeds? Is latency a huge issue?

Thanks for your time

Michamus200 karma

Yes, I want an extremely low contention ratio. That is the amount of backbone provided for the speed promised. For example, a 1gbps backbone with 10 subscribers at 1gbps each would be a contention ratio of 10:1. Most ISPs have contention ratios of 20:1. Centurylink provides a 10:1 ratio on their urban gigabit and Comcast is 12:1 on their urban gigabit service. The max I am considering is a maximum of 5:1. If customers opt for speeds lower than 100mbps, I can support more actual customers. As of right now, I'm thinking that I will only have upwards of 100 clients in my area.

The radios we are using are very low latency. The manufacturer claims latency as low as 0.1ms. My real-world implementation has shown 1-5ms.

MilitaryFish24 karma

Are the speeds contingent on the amount of customers or are there different rates people would be paying for? For example is it closer to having a separate ISP per person in a 5 person household or is it closer to having one connection in a house with 5 people? Basically would everyone be sharing or so you offer separate rates per account?

Sorry for asking so many questions just curious how you're going about the service itself :]

Michamus101 karma

It will be a per household basis. Basically, I will put an antenna on their roof and run an Ethernet line into their home. If they don't have a wireless router, they can lease one for $10/mo or they can pay the price I paid for it.

I have three plans that I provide.

Speed Monthly Price
25mbps $50
50mbps $80
100mbps $125

ShittyFieldTech43 karma

solid pricing.

Michamus31 karma


PutinsButtCheeks93 karma

Would it be possible to have an Internet that works peer to peer?

Michamus154 karma

Yes and I actually considered this option. The major trade-off though is latency. Using DD-WRT would require less infrastructure cost, but create an internal network latency measured in the hundreds of milliseconds. Our setup has an internal latency of 1-5ms.

BlueDragon10192 karma

Even if net neutrality goes down, will you still act like it didn't in terms of your business practices?

Michamus149 karma


clinicalpsycho81 karma

If this becomes successful, what are your plans for expansion?

Michamus162 karma

As far as expansion goes, simply setting up repeater AirFiber stations with 2gbps capacity is the best route. I can set up a repeater backbone on the main roof of each neighborhood.

On hauls longer than 20km I could do a 1.4gbps 100km AirFiber station. Someone suggested that I consider setting up a franchise. As for now, I'm focusing on my community though.

hfoxp52 karma

If you don't mind saying what does it actually take to setup a ISP?

Michamus107 karma

Cashwise? It will require about $40k with roughly $25k in annual operating expenses.

As far as equipment goes, a fiber link and several long-range wifi antennas are about all you need. The rest is scale and quality of service.

LtLawl35 karma

What frequency is the AirFiber using? Do you need Line-of-Sight for a good connection? What is the max throughput each tower would be able to handle? If you sell multiple 100mb plans can the tower handle 200mb of overall traffic? Are you worried about over subscribing a tower? Do you have plans to deal with interference? Are you able to provide good upload speeds?

Michamus48 karma

What frequency is the AirFiber using?

24ghz on the connection to the tower. 5.5 to 5.8ghz on the propagation towers.

Do you need Line-of-Sight for a good connection?

I would highly recommend it. Although, there have been cases where AirFiber Antennas have been used for non-LOS 2-mile old-tree growth suburban roof-to-roof links with speeds of 100mbps.

What is the max throughput each tower would be able to handle?

As of right now, 2gbps. It's scalable though with multiple AirFiber relays.

Are you worried about over subscribing a tower?

No. I'm actually worried about actually using all the bandwidth right now. I could service 20 100mbps customers on the current tower. Also, over-subscription is the norm for ISPs. 20:1 is the industry standard. My maximum will be 5:1, but I don't think I'll ever need to over-subscribe.

hfoxp24 karma

Do you expect to be able to keep it running off of what you make from it alone? Or are you prepared to put some extra money into it?

Michamus57 karma

I expect to cover operating expenses and make some return on investment. The community really needs this and I already have customers lined up for installation. I only require 24 customers to cover operating expenses. That's with 6 at 100mbps, 6 at 50mbps and 12 at 25mbps. I expect most people to pick the lower speed, mostly due to the fact that it's still stinkin' fast and pretty cheap. However, I have several customers that have already pledged to the max speed.

iamgeek120 karma

So I noticed you briefly mentioned technology in one of the other questions. What exactly are you using for your CPE? You say your fiber circuit has a maximum capacity of 10gbps, what capacity are you currently provisioned at? What radios are you using on your tower? Any plans to multi-home? Are you using a carrier grade NAT or did you purchase/rent some IP space? What are you using for routing and switching? Will you support IPv6 right from the start? Do you have emergency power at your headend (in this case, a tower)? Would you be willing to share the pricing on your backhaul and some of the build out costs?

Michamus30 karma

I'm using an NSM5 on a 3-foot roof mounted pole. A shielded outdoor rated Cat 5e line will then be run from NSM5 to a customer provided or leased router. There's a POE injector that will be between the router and NSM5. The maximum link distance will be 5km with 100% clear LOS.

iamgeek115 karma

I'm sorry. I broke some Reddit etiquette by editing right after I posted it. I realized I had more questions but you responded too quick.

Michamus25 karma

No problem! There's lots of questions coming in, so I answer them as quickly as I can.

I have multiple rack-mount UPS for the fiber trunk router, switches, and POE injectors. I will be able to support IPv6 right off the bat, though I will also allow IPv4.

The price is $2k/gigabit. The build-out cost was $30k.

Callingmar119 karma

Hey man,

Army satcom Veteran here, Africa deployment, going to school for IS

What your doing is basically my goal in the future, although I’m shooting rural areas outside the United States, what hurdles and what we’re the biggest issues for you getting started?

Michamus10 karma

The biggest hurdles were getting the fiber permits and installation timeline. There's a lot of red tape involved in this sort of thing.

Also, figuring out exactly what equipment I wanted to use was pretty important as well. I basically just dove in for a couple weeks and just hammered out all the infrastructure details for my network map.

_snoop_1 karma

How many potential customers in your service area?

Great job sir. Wish you all the best with this venture.

Michamus5 karma

I'm forecasting about 100 customers. I only need 24 to break even though.


vladniko1 karma

How low latency is "low latency"?

Michamus2 karma

1-5ms internal network latency to the fiber backbone. Fiber is a direct line to the telecom central office.

[deleted]0 karma


Michamus12 karma

Proof was provided by linking to my website that was established months before the thread creation. I created a "Reddit Visitors" link on the homepage that directly links to this thread.

If you need more proof, I can provide a copy of my fiber contract with Centurylink and LLC paperwork.