How to Start a Wireless Internet Service Provision Business in Kenya

How to Start a Wireless Internet Service Provision Business in Kenya

There is no job rewarding like becoming an ISP in Kenya. Especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, many people are losing their jobs and it’s high time to invest and grow yourself. Becoming an ISP provider gives you an opportunity to become self-employed and better your state. To become an ISP you will need lots of dedication, hard work, good customer support, and within no time you will be earning well.  

To start your own ISP service, there is an option of starting small and growing with the demand or you can choose to start big (I advise the former). When we started this business 5 years ago as a side hustle, we knew nothing about becoming an ISP but we were ready to learn, determined, and had a growth plan. At the moment we have over 300 clients in Nakuru and the returns are far better than ever being employed.  

To start this business you need to do market research, plan out where the base stations will be (these are places where your clients will be getting connected from). This spot needs to be on high buildings and with a large coverage so as to maximize returns. We then advise on investing in good quality equipment for long term benefits and for happy customers. Maintain your setup to keep your service stable and even expand it over time.

Steps to Follow Before Starting a WiFi Business

Step 1: Evaluate the Area 

Before spending any amount, first and foremost make sure you have picked a nice area meeting the right criteria to maximize profit, reduce starting capital, and increase clients’ connections. Don’t buy any types of equipment yet until you evaluate the following characteristics that we recommend:

  • Population Density – Towns tend to be an ideal starting point for wireless internet service provision. You can connect businesses, apartments, and single homes easily and quickly. You will also require fewer access points unlike starting in rural areas. Also, worth mentioning towns will give you much more profits due to the population. Note that in town you have to make sure your access points are high enough to see as many rooftops as possible in a range of up to 5km. Each access point can hold clients up to 25 so the more houses you see the better. 
  • House Design – Apartments with a flat rooftop are easy to install internet connection and it means you can use one strong equipment to connect multiple clients. Some houses have steep roofs and are hard/risky to climb on and also many clients dislike their mabati being stepped on. We recommend that you carefully plan very carefully about how you’ll do the installation for your new clients. Every installation has its challenges and it’s a good learning curve and experience. Take your time and have a look at the home designs in your area of interest and make sure it’s safe and comfortable. If you are scared of heights you can hire a technician to do the work for you. 
  • Neighborhood – Estates and apartment buildings might bring up some challenges but can bring in more cash. 
  • Market Competition – Competition is healthy for any business to thrive and it makes sure clients get the best service. But If the people in your area have already been connected, their monthly charges are low and are happy with the internet service they are getting then think twice because it might be hard to get clients. Do market research, engage some friends and neighbors, and ask for challenges they are facing with their current ISP, also ask if they are willing to switch providers and if so for what reasons. From what you have gathered come up with your packages and speeds based on their needs.  

Step 2: Find a tall building to be your base station.  

In every town, there must be a tall building that stands out. You can start here and inquire if the building is fiber ready (this is vital) The ideal spot for your base station will be the topmost floor of the building. We recommend setting up on tall buildings so that your equipment wireless signals travel faster and it becomes easier to connect many clients.  

  • Look for fiber ready buildings in your area and ask to rent space on the roof for your equipment. If the building has multiple fiber options the better since you can use the other as backup, in cases where the other has some issue.
  • To find out if the building is fiber ready, you can search for fiber optic Internet providers in your area. Ask if their fiber reaches your desired building. Also, speak with the owner of the building orbcaretaker for agreement or more information.
  • If your desired building is not fiber ready it is advisable to look for another building because getting the building connected via fiber will be very expensive to install. You are better off finding a building that already has a good fiber connection. 

Step 3: Find other high spots to install your Access Points.  

These high areas are key for relaying your internet signal from the base station to your customers. This can be tall apartments, hills, tall buildings, and even some homes that can be a perfect spot.  

You will need to walk around and search for ideal spots. 

  • You will need a clear line of sight from your access point to your client’s home. These will guarantee good signal strength and an uninterrupted internet connection. Avoid obstacles like trees, hills or other tall buildings along the way since they block the signal to your clients.
  • Target on connecting about 25 clients from each access point, as you get more clients you will add an access point. You will lose money if your access points are in areas with fewer homes or with a limited line of sight. This is the major reason established internet providers focus in town centers and avoid rural areas. 

Step 4: Start Installation Process 

Once all is done and setup is complete you need to start internet installation to your clients. Before installation, you will need to do a site survey and see if it will be possible to connect the client.  

Types of equipment needed in order to fulfill internet installation are; 

  • Outdoor equipment (litebeam, powerbeam) 
  • Wireless router 
  • Cat 6 cable 
  • RJ 45s 
  • Laptop (for configuration purposes) 
  • Other requirements include but not limited to clips, still nails, pole, larder, reflector jacket, safety boots, helmet, and a harmer. 

After the first installation is completed you will need to explain the basic principles of networking to your clients. This includes: 

  • For the internet to work the router and outdoor equipment needs to be turned on 
  • The cables should not be interchanged 
  • The client should not reset the router in any given time 
  • The client should restart the equipment once a week 
  • In case of any issue or assistance, the client should not hesitate but call.

Recommended Hardware Equipments for ISPs 

For Access Points (all are Ubiquiti products) 

This varies with terrain, noise, and locations 

  • Sector M5 
  • Omni M5 
  • Powerbeam M5 

For Clients 

  • Litebeam M5  / Nanostation M5 / Powerbeam 
  • Wireless router 

Starting Capital Breakdown 

The following is an estimate of the cash required to start an ISP business in Kenya. The amount is a budget for starting the basic setup and connecting 15 clients. It is important to note that the amount stated below should not hinder you from starting the business. You can start with a lower amount or start big, another good option for a start is selling internet to neighbors at home.

Budget

250,000 

Full Client Equipment’s

15 

Base Station Setup & Equipment’s

1 

Full Access Point Setup

2 

Note:

  • The amount above is inclusive of the equipment needed, work tools, business name registration, internet, office rent, and other minor expenses.
  • After installing the internet for the first 15 clients, the money you will get back is​ slightly above 100,000/=. You can reinvest this money to install the internet for another 10 clients. If you plan to charge 2,000 per client that means after a month you will have 25 clients and a monthly income of 50,000/=

ISP Profit Margin Estimate in Kenya

Below is a detailed estimate of how much you can earn as a wireless internet service provider. We have broken it down into 3 stages with different clientele and monthly packages. With hard work and persistence, you can earn hundreds of thousands when you scale up selling wireless internet in Kenya. It’s a business with good returns and a promising future. 

The figures are an estimate, slight variation is expected. The expenses include but not limited to: 

  • Technical support team 
  • Fiber internet bulk purchase 
  • Medium office space 
  • Base station fees,  
  • Electricity and other small expenses.

No. of Clients 

Monthly Package 

Total Income 

Expenses 

Total Profit 

50 

2,500/= 

125,000/= 

61,500/= 

63,500/= 

100 

2,000/= 

200,000/= 

80,000/= 

120,000/= 

300 

1,500/= 

450,000/= 

140,000/= 

310,000/= 

Hope this article has been of help to you. You can start today, be your own boss, and create employment. It’s not hard or easy, get started today. 

For feedback please comment below or reach us at [email protected] for a consultation.

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