What Is A WISP?

Fixed wireless internet service providers (WISPs) deliver reliable, affordable broadband to customers in fixed locations such as residences, businesses, and schools.

Fixed wireless is the fastest-growing sector of the broadband industry, characterized by cost-effective deployment, rapid technology innovation, and many credible new entrants. Networks can be built and upgraded rapidly – at a fraction of the cost – of those based on DSL, fiber, cable or satellite technologies.

To date, the industry has served mostly rural and suburban areas where telephone and cable broadband deployments are often not cost-effective. WISPs are key to closing the urban-rural digital divide.

U.S. WISP Industry Fast Facts

  • More than 2,000 providers
  • More than 4 million customers
  • Operators in all 50 states
  • Average of 1,200 customers and <10 employees each
  • Typical download speeds are 5 to 50 Mbps residential, up to 1 Gbps business

Most WISPs are small and medium-sized businesses led by entrepreneurs who live in the communities they serve. Most have built their networks with private, at-risk capital, and are profitable and sustainable without government subsidies or incumbent-protecting regulations. They employ local staff.

Typical Fixed Wireless Network Architecture
Typical Fixed Wireless Network Architecture