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