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A wireless Internet service provider (WISP) is an Internet service provider that allows users to connect to a server through a wireless connection such as Wi-Fi. WISPs provide additional services such as virtual private networking VoIP and location-based content.
In the United States, wireless networking is mainly chosen by isolated municipal ISPs and large state-wide initiatives. WISPs are more popular in rural areas, where the users may not be able to use cable and digital subscriber lines (DSL) for Internet access.
Wireless Internet service providers mesh networking or other devices built to operate over open bands between 900 MHz and 5.8 GHz. The devices may also include licensed frequencies in ultra-high frequency (UHF) bands, including multichannel multipoint distribution service (MMDS) bands.
The operating mechanism of a WISP involves pulling an expensive and large point-to-point connection to the center of the area that needs to be serviced. The process involves scanning the area for an elevated building on which wireless equipment can be mounted. The WISP may also connect to a point-to-presence (PoP) and then backhaul to the required towers, thereby eliminating the need to provide a point-to-point connection to the tower.
For consumers who wish to access a WISP connection, a small dish or antenna is placed on the roof of the consumer’s house and is pointed back to the WISP’s nearest antenna site. In a heavily populated area operating at 2.4 GHz band frequency, access points mounted on light posts and consumer buildings can be quite common.
It is often difficult for a single service provider to invest in building an infrastructure to offer global access to its users. In order to encourage roaming between service providers, a Wi-Fi alliance has been established, which approves a set of recommendations known as WISPr to enable internetwork and interoperator roaming for Wi-Fi users.