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So, this crazy idea has been haunting me for a while. I was wondering what it takes legally and technically to become an (Only offer DSL for simplicity) ISP assuming that capital/funding is not an issue?

I know that typically you would need to get a connection from another "wholesale" ISP which is typically a tier-x ISP. Then, you would need to build your own network architecture which consists of:

  • Some very expensive core backbone devices and routers which should be able to handle and load-balance the traffic overseas.
  • Some Servers like DNS, RADIUS and other access control stuff.
  • Other intermediate routers and switches that load balance and serve the end user.
  • Firewalls and security appliances.
  • Software for billing and charging the end users.
  • Technically, you would want to share some T1 lines with a group of users (Typical end-users) and provide leased lines to businesses on demand.
  • Some other stuff going on between you and the telephone network technically and legally.

PS: I mean becoming a real ISP not a re-seller-ISP (aka VISP)

Get more technical and please add more. Also, I have no clue about the legal aspect of the process. Additions would be much appreciated.

Good related reads:




asked Aug 03 '12 at 21:52

TjWallas's gravatar image


edited Aug 05 '12 at 13:19

there was a time back when though it was costly it was easy local ISPs started from the weekend warrior type computer geeks and ham radio operators . you could only do it from the most highly populated cities because the fiber-optic did go far from the big $$ there was only 2 company's MCI & At&T was the biggest usually area had one or the other any one who could get there hands on a few good computer a few modems and a domain name could get good start ..

today not only is equipment expensive need as lot of it you are dealing with multiple back bones and bandwidth is a commodity these days just starting out that can be an issue because as the host you have to buy bid on that bandwidth pay for it use it or not its like electric its there produced how ever if there is no one to use it its gone there is no way to store it for later .. it also really takes more then a spare room or basement it take a bare minimum of a small building that is climate controlled, at least semi dust free air filtered building , has a source of endless back up power just in case a surplus of parts and boards techs on call 24/7 ..

the market is saturated if your not the best deal your not getting the customers :)

answered Aug 03 '12 at 22:59

jadtechnic's gravatar image


edited Aug 03 '12 at 23:01

That's true. These days it would take 90% of that just to run a good game server. I don't think the market is saturated though because; believe it or not, in this day and age there are a lot of complaints over lack of choice. I would however agree that considering cost and having competitive rates would be a challenging paradox and could have some influence on the before mentioned statement.

(Aug 04 '12 at 00:08) ClosetFuturist ClosetFuturist's gravatar image

the market is very saturated so much so they just had to change the standard IPV6 128bit IP system to incress the number of possble IP adresses :)

they were running out of Ip adresses to lease and use for the nuimber of devices and provider out there already ..

(Aug 04 '12 at 00:21) jadtechnic jadtechnic's gravatar image

That sounds like a description of a growing market to me.

(Aug 04 '12 at 00:57) ClosetFuturist ClosetFuturist's gravatar image

That's interesting. I would think there would be some headaches over the personal responsibilities concerning infrastructure that could complicate troubleshooting and maintenance. There's also live technical assistance to consider in that there would be a need for technicians with the skills to communicate with technically challenged customers.

I wonder what the viability of a specialist ISP would be. Suppose it were optimised to work securely with businesses, research facilities or something to that effect.

answered Aug 03 '12 at 22:36

ClosetFuturist's gravatar image



the links they gave for starting an ISP, are over simplified to the max what is describe would work if you were running home ISP service for like family and home production studio online radio and website and email for a few close friends but even then it way over simplified..

just for the record the one site recomends a simple connection to a T1 or T3 the average home get better then this from there cable company today the average router today can suck the life out of a T1 line in about 7 mins left unthrottled ..

Isps in the 80's were running T1 line with modems that would hold a load 6 to 8 2400 buad modems they could push it higher but things bogged badly and lots of drops ..

thats just for starters forget the security issues of making sure your down stream dont turn in to the biggest spam machines on the net or denile of service attacker ...

definatly not something you want in your home these days ,keep in mind you do lease the Ip addresses like you do domain name and such if them Ip addresses get banned these data centers are not going to be quick to release you more Ip addresses are rather limited like bandwith ..

(Aug 04 '12 at 00:08) jadtechnic jadtechnic's gravatar image

Yeah. It would take a lot of research and maybe even some testing to build a proper hub.

(Aug 04 '12 at 01:07) ClosetFuturist ClosetFuturist's gravatar image

more technical a block of less then 30 IP addresses on average today Ipv6 cost betweeen $2,500 and $3000 a year this is US dollars ..

keep in mind that back bone line or down stream you make sound so simple and everyday are regulated by federal governments like satellite transponders, tv network and such they are regulated and monitored to be sure they are used effectively and internet traffic remains moving not blocked and flowing...

cost of 1, Tier 3 (T 3) line minium $5000 a month Roughtly $53,0000 a year on the low end. the OC-1 oc-3 lines are the next step up and the best info I can get is if you have to ask you can't afford it .. ok this is the price if the lines pass by your location if At&T or MCI or some one need to run cable to your house from any distance the price goes way up from there running fiber optic 4 miles can cost up to $250,000 to start at your expense and you will need a petition with signatures from others along the way promising other use by them of this line another words they wont do it just for you even when you have to pay ..

keep in mind the recomendation for the tier1 (T1) line you speak of the limit on them is no more then 3 56K connections those are dail up connection not DSL ..

all this is monitored for use by the federal governments FCC in the US for use if its over used or under used not throttled prioritized the right way you can be shut down..

legally when you are an ISP you enter into a contract with your users business or home user to provide internet access if you fail to do so or do so unfairly you have liability and can sued you will want to have malpractice insurance, internet service is not considered a hobby service today, it is considered a necessary service today like heat lights and electric water sewage and the rest VOIP and cell phone make it so forget banking and postal services that are connected to it today as well .. ..

your links that suggest if you havea few spare desk tops laying around you can be an ISP forget that not gonna happen :)

here is the image of the average small to medium size ISP data center


answered Aug 05 '12 at 14:04

jadtechnic's gravatar image


edited Aug 05 '12 at 14:19


ok after more research here many of the other figures will require knowing how many customers you are targeting to get exact numbers ..

but the cost of the oc-3 line discussed before is $60k a month..

even though most people use DSL today you will need a bank of phone lines because there are some who still prefer to use dial up and sometimes DSL is not possible..

the router which run about $75K a price a small ISP would have a minimum of 2 and being as most connection to the net today are 24/7 this makes you limited if you plan dial up connection too ..

switching which are about $1000 each rack boards memory drives cable wireing the list goes on ..

cost of the building try to find something in a tall building or on a hill top close to the center of the city :) some of the ISP work is dont with satellite up and down linking ..

in order to install it all permits will be required several thousand dollars maybe but to get them you will have to go to the city to get listed as a public utility first to get them..

you will need licensed electricians, techs and engineers full time either on your payroll or paid at there rate .

mind you at this point everything discussed is to connect other user to down stream this is not mail servers, web server. ftp server. and personal internet office staff research, development, advertising ..

(Aug 05 '12 at 15:42) jadtechnic jadtechnic's gravatar image
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Asked: Aug 03 '12 at 21:52

Seen: 5,524 times

Last updated: Aug 05 '12 at 15:45