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We are doing something similar. La CaƱada Wireless Association
(www.lcwireless.net), located in rural NM, S/SE of Santa Fe. Terrain
here seemed pretty flat when we started but seems to have gotten real
up and down since :). We have about 150 members paying $40 per month
with 3 megabits upstream in 2 locations. Coverage is about 400 square
miles or so.

We started about 3.5 years ago with about 16 members. We first needed
enough people to fund the $900 per month needed for a T-1 at $60 per
month each. We had some loaned equipment (Wave) for AP's. Our startup
costs were in the neighborhood of $8000-12000, since paid back to the
funders. People buy their own CPE. Installation by volunteers. Support
by volunteers. We've had a steep learning curve, plus some
infrastructure problems which I think we've beaten into submission.

We have found that some people prefer us, even though DSL (as of late)
and Comcast are alternatives for some. One person even funded a
solar-power access point (we have 3 so far) so he could flush Starband
(the coop's paid him back for that). For others, we are the only link
to the world. They're off the grid, have spotty cell coverage and no
landline phone.  But they've got high-speed internet. Those are the
people that make me happy to have started this.

We're still waiting for the IRS on our 501(c)12 application, but our
lawyer was OK with our model. We do our own bookkeeping (volunteer
elected treasurer, countersigned checks, so far no problems). We are
also willing to function as an umbrella for other local groups,
although that hasn't happened (yet).

Another option is money through USDA, but that probably takes a
heckuva long time.

Your model sounds eminently reasonable and doable. I'd say go for it.
You're in the business, know your costs for field support, equipment,
etc. which removes a lot of the uncertainty from things.


Pete Davis wrote:

> There is a town (Yorktown, TX) with about 1200 people in it, about
> 15 miles away from our main pop in our county. We have not pursued
> a backhaul to there, or putting out a POP. We are very busy putting
> subs on our existing POPs and maintaining them.We have been
> offered roof rights in down town in trade for free internet. The
> town is poorer than average (way more mobile homes than frame/brick
> homes, more people than average on welfare, etc) The town is
> smaller than average, and there aren't many businesses in the town.
> Nonetheless, we do get at least a new call a week from the 20 or so
> people in town interested in broadband. There is no competition,
> EXCEPT dsl in the 2 mile circle right in the middle of downtown
> (not within most of the population)
> What we were thinking is this: Let us create a wireless cooperative
> and let the 20 potential subs buy shares for $500 each. The $10k
> will buy them a wireless backhaul (to my main tower), an AP tower,
> and an AP, 20 (coop owned) CPE, and enough manpower for us to
> deploy. The $40/mo (x1.5 for business customers) that they each pay
> will go toward buy bandwidth from us, pay for the manpower needed
> to deal with service calls, etc. Any profits left at the end of the
> year (over a capital equipment fund) get split with the coop
> members in the form of a dividend check, and maybe a barbeque.
> Maybe the non-coop member subscriber rate could be $49.00 (x1.5 for
> business) and they would still pay a $200 setup fee. Coop members
> wouldn't need to be subscribers, and subscribers wouldn't need to
> be coop members. A part time bookeeper would be needed to keep
> everything straight, although we could just keep those records with
> our books, but they should be audited anually.
> The Dewitt County Producers Coop is a feed store that sells feed,
> ranch supplies, baby chicks, baby fish (for stock tanks), tractor
> tires and parts, and other farm-ey stuff. Members and non-members
> can buy there, though members get an annual dividend based on their
> purchases (2% or something). Its a large operation, but DeWitt
> County is like the 4th largest beef cattle producing county in
> Texas (the largest beef cattle producing state). They have been
> very successful, in spite of having competition, and I think a
> wireless internet deployment could be financially modeled the same
> way. Its not that I don't want to get the profits for myself, but
> the return on a $10k (or $20k) deployment could be several years in
> a market that small.
> Anyone else doing anything like this? Pete Davis NoDial.net
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fn:Bob Knight
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