How to Start a Wireless ISP

by Eli Laurens

Wireless Internet service providers (ISPs) provide Internet to many households that would otherwise use dial-up connections or have none at all. Setting up a wireless ISP is extremely easy and inexpensive when you need to service only a handful of customers.

Install the antennas onto the router and place them onto the building. You will have to replace the standard 2dB antennas with something more robust, preferably omnidirectional, weatherproof models with a decibel rating over 12. The connectors on the antenna cables attach to the standardized plugs on the router (N-type or RMS), as well as the extension cable leading to the new antennas. The antennas should be placed as high as possible and vertically oriented. Typical routers will have a stock range of about a quarter mile, but adding these new antennas will boost that range to a half mile or more.

Set up the router. Routers are usually accessible through their firmware, which can be viewed through a website. The firmware displays settings and restrictions and must be set up to properly handle the traffic of many computers. Be sure the settings for encryption (WPA or WEP) are enabled and a password is set. Check other settings such as the "lease timeouts" (set for maximum time) and number of users allowed. By default, routers are set to DHCP, which will assign IP addresses to the users' computers automatically. The router will have a place to give it a broadcast name, or SSID. Set this SSID to a simple, recognizable name. Save all setting changes before closing the window.

Connect the router to the wired Internet connection with an RJ-45 Ethernet cable.

Set up customers' computers to use the wireless router as an access point. In the network settings for the machine's wireless networking hardware, select "obtain IP address automatically" or DHCP. Using the wireless card's software or Windows' built-in wireless configuration, scan for networks. If the router is within range, it will show up on the scan results. Enter in the encryption passcode, and the router will give the machine an address and connect it to the network.

Check for Internet connectivity by opening a browser window and attempting to surf the web.


  • check Directional antennas can have higher range and are usually rated for a higher decibel level.

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About the Author

Eli Laurens is a ninth-grade physics teacher as well as a computer programmer and writer. He studied electrical engineering and architecture at Southern Polytechnic University in Marietta, Ga., and now lives in Colorado.

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