Have any of you tried setting up a for pay hotspot/ WISP to make some money from providing WIFI?

12 Replies

I wasn't sure where to post this, I hope it's the right forum.

I've got a friend with a 20 unit trailer park set up, and I was talking to him about setting up a wifi hotspot to make a little extra money on the side.

http://www.sputnik.com/support/faq/

sputnick is one option.

Then, as we all do, I started thinking big and thought why not just set up my own wireless ISP for the area around my properties?

This is what gave me the idea for the WISP 

http://www.reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur/comments/2fts...

Has anyone done anything similar?

If this is in the wrong section, I can remove and repost it, or feel free to move it if you can.

Thanks.

That's an interesting idea. If I were a renter, having wifi built in to the rent would be a large selling point. 

I think it may work better in an apt building where spaces are more cobfined, to me it seems like a trailer park is a large area to try and get covered with wifi? Repeaters all over maybe?

I think @Al Williamson  tried something similar with his apartment complex.

We put WiFi into a 48 unit apartment this summer and it was welcomed by the tenants and is a good selling point to the university a block away that has rented 10 of the units. So far it's worked well.

Be careful looking at supplying Wi-Fi as a source of income. The signal is moving towards being a free commodity. More and more people consider the Internet as a right and not a privilege.

I think a better play is t find ways to make a little money renting appliances that use Wi-Fi.

It's a way to sell Levy jeans to the miners and NOT mining yourself - at least that's the direction I'm going as the Internet of Things takes off.

@Loren Thomas  There are set ups made for this very thing.  Things like mesh networks and repeaters and access points can get this done pretty easily.


I come from the hotel world so it's a similar set up there.

@Al Williamson  For my current units, they're actually all bills included so I include the wifi with that, currently.  But I was considering using my existing two story building as a tower of sorts to broadcast the wifi to the neighborhood that surrounds it.

Also I feel like the trailer park situation is a little different than an apartment situation because people are bringing their own homes in, I feel like the paradigm is just different.  Also the self serve internet model would be preferred to a lot of people vs the go into an office with 3 forms of I.D. and wait for for the cable guy to come to your house and install the equipment.


I'm waiting to amass capital for my next property, and in the mean time I'm trying to figure out alternative sources of income.  I'd like to put a small laundry facility in, but I don't have room on my lot that has 4 units on it

As a tech guy, I see a few problems with implementing this.  First off, many of us nowadays have more than one devices that uses the same network.  Between four of us (myself, wife, and two kids) we have 9 devices; four iPads, three phone, two computers.  Take that number times however many people in the neighborhood and add some extra buffer zone in there for peak times, you'll need a pretty beefy network.  Not only you have to have a fast connection T1-T3 or even fiber optic to make it works.  Include some sercurity services and tech supports when the system go down, and it will go down trust me!  You're probably looking at hundreds if not million dollars investment.  Also take into consideration of people sharing connections, only one person pay and the rest of the block share.  There are ways to prevent this by account and password, MAC address tracking, or limiting bandwidth which most of the large ISP already utilizing.  Unless you make it as a free service like hotel and coffee shop, I just don't see how it is going to works.  There are in fact anti monopoly law in place, but in order for you to be competitive, you have to have the infrastructure in place which translate into $$$$.   A few years ago companies likes xanadoo and clear wire have the same idea like you have now and they have money to back it up, yet they still fail.  My advice to you is to sign up for a business account that have faster download and upload speed with unlimited bandwidth.  Package free access with increase rent and you maybe able to come out ahead because you are able to piggy back on the infrastructure and tech support of the local ISP.  Good luck. 

@Vik Desai

I absolutely love the way you're thinking. Please keep up the innovation!

Have you heard about Google's weather balloons? They create a network in the sky. This is a big threat to making your idea obsolete. Check that out before you spend any money.

Also be mindful of landscape interference. Although I placed a 30 FT antenna on my roof top and I have one of the tallest building in the area, I wasn't able to get my WiFi signal out very far because the trees got in the way.

Maybe you can avoid the interference issues I encountered, but how will you compete if Google give out free Wi-Fi?

My company provides this set up to businesses in the Midwest (I am in Nebraska).  Lots of good comments and thoughts on this thread.  

What we have had good success with is allowing property owners to tier services up.  A good WiFi company will offer you the ability to have a amenity layer AND a "pay for" layer. 

The amenity layer allows you to advertise "Free WiFi" as a draw to potential tenants.  The amenity layer allows for you to charge for higher speeds.  This could even be a temporary need for some tenants while others will want to subscribe to longer terms.  Bringing in a fiber connection actually gives your tenants speeds they would not be able to afford on their own like 10 MB down AND up, while cable carriers provide you with high download speeds but very slow upload speeds.  For applications like VoIP, gaming or video streaming, the upload speed is every bit as important as the download.  

Also, if you decide that an amenity layer is all that you are going to provide, there are ways to recoup some of your costs by making advertising dollars off of the "Free WiFi".  The advertising piece alone often is enough to justify the amenity layer.  It takes certain technology partners to make some of these happen but options are available.  

Good luck.

Regards,

Brian 

@Brian Barnes  I had this idea exactly, I'm also involved in the hotel business. Hampton Inn is going to a similar style. The free WiFi is fine for the average user's facebook, YouTube  and Amazon, but if you want to do some serious bandwidth abuse, you have to pay for it.  

Do you think your company could sell a kit of sorts to businesses that would want to do this? 

Originally posted by @Vik Desai :

@Brian Barnes I had this idea exactly, I'm also involved in the hotel business. Hampton Inn is going to a similar style. The free WiFi is fine for the average user's facebook, YouTube  and Amazon, but if you want to do some serious bandwidth abuse, you have to pay for it.  

Do you think your company could sell a kit of sorts to businesses that would want to do this? 

Hi Vic,

It depends on what portions you would want in the kit.   The installation of the gear is pretty easy.  There are a number of companies around the country that can install WiFi gear and run the cable to the gear.  The technology overlay for offering tiered service and the advertising layer is where it gets tricky.   These portions can be offered separate from the installation however.   

Because coverage is essential, make sure you use a WiFi manufacturer that has high density and preferably roaming capabilities.  This limits you to 3 manufactures that do this well.  Ruckus, Aruba and Cisco (in that order) are the 3 that I recommend.  I would get proposals from all 3 and inform your vendor(s) that is your intention.  In doing so, you get them to compete for your business.  I have seen manufacturers discount their product(s) up to 75% off because they know they are competing for the business.  

In a related note, your idea of offering internet services from your roof top is not only a good idea, its been done probably more than you would think.  This take a different wireless technology (microwave) to make it happen.  Your options are a bit limited as to this type of technology, but certainly it works.  Some property owners have multiple buildings in the same city and connect them all with this type of technology. They bring in a main connection from the ISP and a redundant one to feed all properties. This saves on your bandwidth costs considerably.   Essentially you could feed any area in between any of the properties.  

Its refreshing to see a developer/property owner that "gets it".  

If you want to talk about the possibilities of a kit, private message me and we can sort through details.  Thanks,

-Brian

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but are you talking about buying all your own equipment and then charging for WiFi?

I read an article a while back about the big companies (Verizon, ATT, etc) offering to rent your space in order to put one of their towers up.  In other words, these companies want to make money on WiFi (like xfinity, which you'll see all over the place) and they need places to put their equipment.  Apparently they could use your attic space or whatever.  I guess they had problems with permits due to the towers being 'eye sores.'  Anyway, from the article I read, it sounds like they rent space from you.  I think Churches were their obvious targets as they have steeples and the article was partially talking about the associated tax issues.

Or as @Al Williamson  pointed out, these things are going out anyway.  I like your thoughts.

Originally posted by @Andrew Whicker :

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but are you talking about buying all your own equipment and then charging for WiFi?

I read an article a while back about the big companies (Verizon, ATT, etc) offering to rent your space in order to put one of their towers up.  In other words, these companies want to make money on WiFi (like xfinity, which you'll see all over the place) and they need places to put their equipment.  Apparently they could use your attic space or whatever.  I guess they had problems with permits due to the towers being 'eye sores.'  Anyway, from the article I read, it sounds like they rent space from you.  I think Churches were their obvious targets as they have steeples and the article was partially talking about the associated tax issues.

Or as @Al Williamson  pointed out, these things are going out anyway.  I like your thoughts.

 Yes.  This would be charging for internet (with an amenity layer as well).  And yes, carriers often try to negotiate roof space to put up towers.  The aesthetics can often prevent that from happening although that is usually up to the property owner.  Carriers often will run into permit issues when putting a cell tower up as homeowners will fight it through City Council.  

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