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Sell Internet access to a community using Starlink

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

An entrepreneur who starts a WISP business today has a limited radius of operation around the location where the WISP can contract a wholesale or even retail data connection to the Internet.

The radius of operation can be up to 50Km depending on the facility to build multiple-hop wireless point-to-point links. If there is no Internet data connection then a WISP cannot be established. When LEO satellite services become available globally then entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to build a WISP anywhere in the world.

A Starlink antenna

A terrestrial Internet service connection is not required. The use of LEO services does place some restrictions on the network design, as listed below.

  • LEO satellite antennas cannot be grouped together, they must have a minimum distance separating them; installing the LEO antennas at each PtMP tower site is a good solution as towers are spaced a few Km apart.

  • The easyWISP access control gateway is installed at each tower between the PtMP wireless antenna and the LEO antenna as part of the equipment configuration; the easyWISP cloud subscriber management system can have many gateways added to the account.

The next diagram illustrates the network design with a LEO satellite antenna installed at each PtMP tower.

This diagram illustrates the network design with a LEO satellite antenna installed at each PtMP tower

When an entrepreneur plans to start a WISP business then installing a LEO satellite antenna on each PtMP tower together with the the easyWISP gateway has a series of business benefits listed below.

  • With LEO satellite services available around the globe then a WISP company can be established anywhere.

  • As the only infrastructure build-out is the PtMP tower then the WISP can start in business much faster, speeding return on investment.

  • The reliability of the Internet service provided for the customer is improved, less equipment to fail and backup systems are required only at the tower.

  • The WISP carries fewer inventory parts, which reduces investment; the only inventory items required are customer CPE kits and equipment to build and repair towers. Equipment for servicing the wireless distribution network and NOC is eliminated.

  • Fewer technical staffs are required and some operating costs can be eliminated due to the simplified network design, installation, support and maintenance requirements.

  • The WISP administrator uses the easyWISP cloud to manage all subscribers at every tower.

The next figure illustrates the tower installation with a LEO satellite backhaul. Multiple PtMP wireless access points will cover the area desired.

Illustrates the tower installation with a LEO satellite backhaul. Multiple PtMP wireless access points will cover the area desired.

The easyWISP cloud maintains a list of subscribers at each tower and programs each easyWISP gateway for authentication and rate-plans of those subscribers.

PtMP towers that are built in remote locations will not have electrical power and so infrastructure must be added to power the tower equipment. Generating power for the tower equipment is shown in the figure. When a Starlink antenna is installed the power requirements are increased considerably as a Starlink antenna consumes more power than other network equipment. Vendors of tower power systems will give advice about the characteristics of the components to provide adequate power.

WISP network administration using LEO satellite backhauls

The easyWISP subscriber billing and network monitoring software is a cloud service that configures each tower easyWISP gateway for authentication, rate-plan settings, activation and deactivation in case of non-payment. A record of customers associated with each tower facilitates the individual access control router programming. The next diagram illustrates a easyWISP cloud administration software that manages the interface with each easyWISP gateway.

Illustrates a easyWISP cloud administration software that manages the interface with each easyWISP gateway.

New opportunities for WISP's that adopt LEO satellite services

In parts of the world where there is no access to a wholesale Internet connection a WISP can set up in business with Starlink, as there will inevitably be a pent-up demand of potential customers seeking an Internet service. Starlink will empower entrepreneurs who would like to start a WISP business but are currently not able due to lack of backhaul infrastructure.

People in many parts of the world have few opportunities to gain technical experience and so a system such as easyWISP that is plug-and-play and very easy to use permits people to start a WISP business who would not otherwise be able to.

In order that entrepreneurs in many parts of the world can start WISP businesses the following criteria are part of the easy WISP technology.

  • Extensive technical knowledge is required, the WISP system components are very easy to connect and use, called plug-and-play technical solutions.

  • The technical solution is economical so that the minimum amount of investment is required to start a WISP business.

  • The technical solution has a low operating cost, in the range of cents per subscriber per month.

  • The economics of the business permits providing a very low cost Internet service for a population with economic limitations where the charge will be in the range of a few dollars per month.

  • The WISP can mobile broadband in addition to fixed broadband as potential customers with limited economic means will use low cost smart phones as Internet access terminals and seek locations where mobile broadband is offered. The cost of installing fixed broadband CPE equipment at the customer’s premises may be too high for the customer.

The criteria for the easyWISP management system for developing regions of the world are listed below.

  • Has the essential functionality for provisioning new customers, billing customers, monitoring network performance and alerting of network failures.

  • Functions with any type of PtMP wireless access point and CPE wireless unit.

  • The operating cost per subscriber is in the cents per month range, not the dollars per month.

  • The billing system supports both fixed broadband monthly subscription billing and mobile broadband on-demand billing.

  • The initial network investment is the lowest of any system available in the market.

Which Starlink service?

Starlink service offerings and the terms and conditions for each service change often. The residential service has a monthly data cap which restricts its use for a WISP application. The service with roaming is convenient as the antenna can be installed anywhere. The business service costs more and is suitable for this application as it provides higher data speeds and no data cap.

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