Community Internet Projects


Active Member
I'm thinking of proposing a community based ISP for my townhouse development.

What I'm thinking is to create a network between the 90+ units that allows high speed access to a T1 or higher and split the costs for everyone participating maybe by increasing the HOA dues or by setting up a billing system of some sort.

Hopefully by doing it this way everyone would have access to higherspeed internet for cheaper than what it would cost us to get DSL or Cable internet separately.

I've read about different projects that have been successful in the past but I can't seem to google up any information for this type of setup in the US.

I found some references to projects in the UK and even a company in Canada that does this sort of thing but I was hoping to find something a little closer to home.

Does anybody here have any experience with this type of thing or know of any pages I could look at for information?

This would be a huge project compared to anything I've done in the past and maybe I'm biting off more than I can chew but I'll be jiggered if it doesn't sound like a challenge worth at least looking into.
I assume you are going to have one unit get the broadband connection, then broadcast this signal wirelessly to the community?
It wouldnt be worth it if it were all wireless. Im not so sure it would be very cheap to do this in a existing setup. Maybe a new construction wouldnt cost to much but running wires to each house would not be cheap. Plus not everyone in the world wants the internet. There are alot of things that i can see that would get the idea rejected. I think its a great idea for a new community still in the planning phase.

Also you might be restricted to the community rules of use meaning they may install a firewall on their end and block ports and sites that you have no control over.

You might be better off knocking on your neighbors door and asking him to split a cable or dsl connection with you.
BSR, I hadn't worked out the details yet. Not even sure if something like this would fly with the other residents but I figure it's worth looking into.

Squintz, you raise some valid points. Initial cost for a project like this I don't think would actually be that bad. I'm not in the computer business so I don't know what the cost of having a business class broadband connection, like E mentioned, is but splitting it 90 ways would bring the cost way down.

As far as having a firewall in place to filter traffic, I'm not sure that would be such a bad thing. Every ISP has restrictions and rules on how you can use their service. As long as you're not abusing the service and breaking the rules there shouldn't be an issue. I imagine this would be no different except that instead of paying a big nasty company money for internet you're paying the neighborhood you live in plus you have a better chance of having something fixed if the person running the whole deal is 2 buildings over.

E. thanks for the links. There's some great info in all of them. Also, what defines a business class broadband connection? I've never dealt with anything beyond Cable and resident level DSL connections. Is there a set of companies beyond say QWest that I would deal with?
Business class means higher speeds and are allowed to run servers etc. You usually get a few static ip addresses as well. In my area, a fast business RR connection is around $300/month, 6mbit down and a few mbit up, with guaranteed T1 speeds. This is much cheaper and faster than the T1, so this would probably be the way to go.

Plenty of people have set up a network like this before, the only reason I personally won't do it for my street is due to support reasons, it could become a big hassle, and you also have to legally protect yourself in case your users start downloading illegal stuff.