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need advice on starting isp

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  • need advice on starting isp

    For years I have wanted to start my own isp, however, my available budget is less than what most people spend on coffee every month. recently I heard of a company called dialupusa. they sell wholesale bandwidth and give you the option of paying $1 a month for everyone of your customers but all you need to do is marketing and basically taking care of the financial end. it sounds like a good idea as far as getting started but I am still weary of it. if anyone can offer advice on the subject it would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Having started and later sold my own ISP... a few thoughts:

    Reselling POP access is certainly one way to do it. Oversubscription may not be the issue it once was, but be certain you do your homework on these guys. Find out what they're user:modem ratio is.

    Service is everything! Marketing is easy, but you'll get customers by word-of-mouth. If your not at the top of your game every time someone calls with a question, either in terms of sales, or having bad line quality, then you'll have issues. I don't mean to scare ya with that, but that's what was true when I run mine in 1997-2001. Word of mouth was the key. I did almost zero marketing, and still built up 200 customers (from dial-up, to T1), simply by who I knew, making contacts, and customers referring other folks.

    Along the lines of service, who's going to do tech support? You'll get all sorts of wacky calls, absolutely. But will you handle those, or will this reseller take those calls? If you take them, what kind of access will you have to troubleshoot the issues?

    Also consider that the dial-up market is slowly waning, even tho there are still large parts of non-urban areas which rely on it. If you can get a hold in one of these rural markets, without killing yourself in support costs, then there might be something to take advantage of!

    I was a control freak about my ISP. I owned everything. I make the capital purchases of all the cisco gear, the T1 lines & incoming trunks, I had the whole package (and it was nice - I didn't know any one else with 3 T1's coming into their house :). Literally when someone called up to complain that they could only get a 26.4K connection on their brand new 56K modem - I had to know everything from what kind of PC they had, issues with that brand modem, and what version firmware it should have. Since I had direct access to the hardware, I could go into my access router and actually run line-quality tests on their modem connection and help them trace down issues.

    What I didn't count on was it growing as fast as it did (this is before DSL rolled out, mind you), and I had to bring on help sooner than I expected to keep up with growth. So my big worry about reselling POPs is make sure you do the research on these guys - know them inside & out. Cuz if something goes wrong, customers will blame you, not this third party - because they pay you, not them.

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    • #3
      Excellent advice. I agree that the #1 issue is to keep the customer happy. Even if you have to refund an entire month's bill just to keep a customer happy (as long as it's not common) then it's worth it, a happy customer is the best marketing you can get.
      --- The fuck? Have you ever BEEN to Defcon?

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      • #4
        Agreed. From my experience you could very well charge customers up to 1 grandmother per month and they will pay it happily as long as you provide their service without issue, or have friendly, prompt, .. non-Indian support to resolve their issues promptly every time.

        Unless you are willing to extend your support bounderies to the equivelent of a door to door fullerbrush man for servicing PCs, you will need to grow a customer base and come to the understanding that *at least* 3-10% of your customers will come up with issues that you simply cannot support. Their cat ingested all the wiring in their house. Their Windows 95 computer can barely function with all of the tsaware, malware, and corruption. Their friend Bill just recommended upgrading their 9600 baud external modem to an obscure device that only has XP drivers... but they need it working on their Win3.1 system hey, they got the card to fit in with a little work, so it should get them on the Internet, right?
        if it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud; and I'm gonna go there free.

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        • #5
          Re: need advice on starting isp

          Off-topic in the sense that it is not an isp, but does anyone know anything about webhost reselling?

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          • #6
            Re: need advice on starting isp

            imo, it is a much more profitable realm than hard services. Don't skimp on the server(s), redundancy/uptime is the key; know what you're doing.. simply knowing how to compile apache will not do. Look into resale domain registration and consider doing the entire package (mail, web, DNS). Folks like companies that do it all, know what they're doing and keep it working.. they'll pay more than you think for it.

            outside of basic quip, please further define your inquiry and you'll probably find a decent base of folks to respond.
            if it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud; and I'm gonna go there free.

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