How to begin making my own ISP?

No one replied with any useful information. I guess no one wants
competition on this list? Pretty poor tactic.

I think the question was far too vague. The first thing you need to start an ISP is LOTS OF MONEY.

The second thing is that you need to have at least a VAGUE idea what you
want to actually offer.

A DSL ISP is VASTLY different than a Co-Location ISP.

I'd say you need to sit down and take a long hard look at exactly you
want to do, *then* figure out what you need to do in order to accomplish

Ken Matlock
Network Analyst
Exempla Healthcare
(303) 467-4671

It's not safe to ass-u-me that absence of a reply is due to a desire to
avoid competition. I strongly suspect that the answer to your question is
very large, very complex, highly dependent on your location, business plan,
connectivity, and the like, and that people simply don't have the free time
to devote to tutoring you in how to build and run your startup. I know I

Based on this email, I would suggest Marketing/PR classes :wink:


Furthermore, it's a truly poor assumption that the larger portion of
starting one's own ISP is a purely technical exercise. I'd say the
financial, political, and marketing aspects are far more daunting than
the nuts-n-bolts side of things. However, if you really want to get
advice about the tech side of it, I'd consider looking for an internship
with an ISP.

Of course, another possible mistake was to assume that the majority of
NANOG members work for ISPs (as such). Other entities operate networks,


"... First, You make a roux!" - Julia Childs

Clearly its not a easy/simple as it used to be but its not rocket science either.

you have to decide where you want to start; eyeballs, content, or get others to defray
the cost of yur access.

Once you select which target you are after, then you can pick your gear. I am going to
presume OSS and fully depricated kit to keep your costs down and to boost your learning

On the presumption you want to run BGP I suggest you invest in some colo space at/near
a public internet exchange w/ a large number of players.. SIX was good, Telx was good,
and the S&D pops were as well - at least four/five years ago.

slip you old HP laptop into the rack and buy a cross connect to the exchange fabric.
replace the OS on the laptop w/ FreeBSD or CentOS, from ports, add SSH and Quagga.

Chat up potential peers at the exchange and see whom will peer w/ you using a Private ASN.

Contact ARIN or third party broker to lease some IP space and an ASN. If you can't find/justify
the resources 'cause your just starting out, there is private space and private ASN.

Configure Quagga w/ the obtained ASN and announce the IP prefix(es).

TaDa ... You are an ISP!


Now all you need is a business plan that pays for the rack space. :wink:

What they said.

  However - this is the NANOG list, not the EOF. If you
  are going to play in the EU space, you should ask there.
  Also - if you are just playing w/ nuts/bolts - a valuable
  resource is the NSRC site. They do excellent work in
  helping the technology challanged understand and deploy
  communications systems.

  you might also want to talk to the DENIC folks and likely RIPE NCC.

  Good Luck, you wet-behind-the-ears whippersnapper.


and the Internet Numbering resource fees, the cross connects, power,
  spares, ... and if you tak in money, insurance, taxes, accounting,
  sys-admin costs (unless this is best-effort service that yu can
  "fire & forget" or your paying clients don't care when you are down
  for three weeks - looking for replacement kit and the time to configure
  it -after- your homework is done...)

  But this song isnt about Alice...


No one replied with any useful information. I guess no one wants
competition on this list? Pretty poor tactic.

Honestly, I did have an insightful email drafted up for your original post, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like I was getting troll-baited.

I do see posts on this list from time to time, and on other related lists, from people who appear to be pretty new to the game, and that's perfectly OK. I will not bash a newbie for being a newbie, because we were all newbies at one point or another. However, expecting other people to do all the work and give you all of the answers, and then criticizing the group when they didn't do that, based on a very vague definition of a requirement is just bad form.

Since you mentioned school years in your original post, I'm going to assume that you're also pretty young. Just remember - mailing list archives are forever :wink:


I'd also recommend reading the "Systems Hardware Integration Tasks" linked to from:


That's if you want to make a little money running an ISP. If you want to make lots of money running an ISP, it takes *even more* money.

Matthew Kaufman


First I must apologise for not responding, I did see this message and did mean to attempt to help you out as I am currently working though this exact process in a very small proof of concept network with an even smaller budget.

To address our question, a good starting point is a Cisco CCNA.

If you review the list archive for the past month you will find a very interesting thread linking to guys who are running massive home networks just for their learning, that in turn will link you to detailed public CVs showing the sort of stuff that these guys are trained and training in.

You also need some business training to understand how to structure the business aspects of your project. An MBA is a good qualification but there are many less high level courses you could look at as well.

NA Nog is an operational list (with a lot of rant and fun stuff) and not really a business focused or educational list, so your initial query simply ran under the radar.



If you are able to read french, there are useful informations :

the fai-locaux mailing list archives :

A series of posts on this blog :

Some informations are france-specific (in regards of law, etc...), but it can be useful.
A lot of informations about ISP creation has been discussed lately, because FDN, a french association that is the oldest ISP still active in france, decided to create (with other associations) a "federation" to help the creation of new associative isps. You can see the FDN website (


I don't know if that was directed at me or the OP, but very interesting stuff thanks.

No I don't read French, but google does. :slight_smile: