In general, we help you select a viable market to build a WISP in, by taking out the emotion. Most WISPs are built because someone felt compelled to solve their Internet access issues or they wanted to be the “savior” of the community. These types of builds rarely succeed. We take out that emotion and focus on quantifiable items we can evaluate

Initial Market Review

This is a high-level review designed to determine if a given market is feasible and worthy of a deeper dive in-market to identify the resources to be used and design a full-coverage plan. There is never a full guarantee that this level of review will pan out when in the field because oftentimes the data we have to work with is outdated, especially in light of all the recent COVID funding. Currently, the FCC is only reporting Jun 2020 data as their most current for example.

During this review we look at the following:

  • Population, age ranges (high emphasis on populations with high numbers from 5-60), trends (growing or declining)
  • Poverty level
  • Competition (number of competitors, type, reliability/history/reviews)
  • Grant funding requirements in place (CAF, CAF II, RDOF, etc.), reviewing those with grants and their viability
  • Terrain
  • Tower and fiber assets in the region
  • Commercial business population and growth potential
1

Topography 

Does the terrain make deployment too challenging or too expensive? Elevation changes, dense foliage, climate and more must be considered. 

2

Demographics 

Is the community too sparsely populated? We are cognizant of population density and other factors when considering the network design.

3

SocioEconomics 

What income levels, living standards, and commercialization trends are we working with? Understanding our community helps us plan for success. 

4

Funding 

Have any grants been awarded or is there any eligibility? Grants can be a catalyst for entry or a competitive barrier to overcome. 

5

Competition 

Who is serving the community today and what are their speeds/ prices? What are people saying about the service? 

6

Assets 

What resources are available to leverage in the market? We look for the best sources of bandwidth and suitable tall tower structures. 

Field Survey Market Review

During this process, we send an engineer into the field that has experience building out a WISP. Someone that knows how to locate towers, fiber, and document those findings properly. Someone that can review the various factors we looked at previously and make sure they match reports. Oftentimes we find changes that were never documented or reported (or their reporting is delayed). For example, at best, we can usually only view FCC 477 data that is 1 year old. Many WISPs just started reporting recently and thus are not on the currently available reports. Prior to going into the field, we dig deeper into a network design based on the previous efforts. We identify the towers we are interested in, as well as, alternate options. We try to locate non-cell towers like water towers, grain silos, and other tall structures before going out. We identify the local water authority in case we would like to meet them in the area briefly. We review fiber options in the region and make note of the current fiber routes where known.

Once in the field, we visit each tower asset and document the following:

  • Height, tower dimensions, open space
  • Photo log of the site and drone flight of the area
  • Check the structure for any issues related to build out and document
  • Confirm local addresses
  • Find the fiber and document
  • Review other tenants on the tower and log details related to what a crew would want to know

We also check the competition and look for undocumented WISPs. We check for yard signs advertising high-speed internet and follow up on them (most tend to be satellite). We look at the homes and the areas. Do they match what we saw online? Is the commercial district viable? What options are there for future expansion or growth we might have missed during the high-level review? The time in the field is used to build the project budget and complete the final network design. When we return to the office after the field visit, we seek out tower commitments and fiber quotes based on our preliminary plan. This goes into the budget. We present a plan, budget, and rough timeline to get it going.

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