What would it take to lay fibre?

Hi Tek Syndicate

I have started to be curious about what it would take to lay fibre and become a small internet provider? The subject has been discussed at length but I can't seem to find a forum thread outlining a birds-eye view of the process (I am not looking for details but also assume you can't just start digging your own trenches). Specifically I am wondering what it would take to develop a mini ISP (competitor products to large ISPs). Which organization would you be required to contact (wouldn't want to rely on my competitor for infrastructure), which government entities are involved? I am particularly interested in exploring this for Australia, but any information about the US would also be highly appreciated.

Any URLs to any threads I may have missed (tried to search for them on this forum but came up empty), links to articles resources or straight up expertise would be highly appreciated!


Oh My.

Right after posting this I found this thread. Its an older post so hope the above reinvigorates the conversation, however just wanted to make sure I do the due diligence and won't come across as research-lazy. https://forum.teksyndicate.com/t/starting-an-isp/51884

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Got a spare billion do you? After you pay off the middlemen with 90% of that, you can finally pay laborers their $45 hr rate and hope they don't snag (they will) on something which costs you much more.

The NBN is 'meant' to be laying the public fiber infrastructure, however there are allot of issues that no one is addressing with them atm (I won't go into that as its too long winded).,

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A billion - no. Savings from selling a business and a bit of time on my hands - yes :). But that's not what this is about - not yet at least. Its a hypothetical question at this stage. I am sure its not easy (or EXTREMELY difficult at that) but I am curious as to why. You mentioned middlemen - who are these middlemen?

Local council and regulatory bodies. You don't think they are going to let you just slap in fiber by yourself do you? you need to cross all the T's and dot all the i's, you'd be surprised how much that costs. Then there is the planning stage for access pits, plus power supply.

These are some of the more SIMPLE things to consider, but remember you must pay many people to get all this checked up on. Perhaps your local council will overlook allot of things to make it cheap for you.

There is a reason why the NBN is failing hard, its not because of fiber tech but the regulatory/government individuals interfering and generally making it impossible to make decent progress. Look at it this way, how long has NBN been running, how much has been spent, how many delays exist, and they have only JUST passed 1million houses and I VERY MUCH doubt all those houses can actually get NBN (despite what they say).

Also do you plan to lay your fiber directly on top of a potential future NBN rollout in your area? you will need to check up on that, its really stupid to double up on infrastructure (something all too common in Australia)

I don't like being a negative nancy, but it seems our government and regulatory bodies are not tech educated enough to make rolling out fiber to premises with ease. But you can of cause try, let us know how it goes none the less.

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Cool. Thank you @anon63470048. Definitely interested in thinking about this the right way, so crossing all the Ts and Is is the only way. Council, access pits, planning costs, approval timelines are absolutely important. Does anyone know about any resources/ cases in the US/ Australia/ UK that could shine some light on the subject matter - is there a process? Or is this really just a case of going to your neighborhood bureaucrat and starting with a meeting? I know this question is broad, but I am interested whether there are places where this has been done before. Wondering what the learning curve is i.e. how much less expensive it becomes if a community does it the second time around compared to the first time (keeping your double-up comment in mind though Riddick).

More importantly though I am wondering about where this 'small ISP' would get their access to the 'rest of the world' internet from. I read somewhere that a level 2 backbone access would be required, that there are differences between getting an 'external' (so outside of the existing state-backed entities) and 'internal' access (i.e. through Telstra in Australia). Any pointers with regards to that would be fantastic.

I am not looking for concrete answers here, just rough directions to get started with my own research :).

Normally would would have to buy bandwidth form another (larger up stream) ISP and peer with them.
That would require getting AS number for the routers.


I'm very interested in this as well. I put a day or two research into it. The real issue seems to be political bullshit. I'm fairly sure I could run fiber myself. I'm using fiber in my house for lolz. It's getting your local power tripping douchecanoe to allow the install that is the issue.

On a related note, it would be nice to see a team of people who can handle the legal work pop up and offer to help out startups with the legal bs for a decent price. If there is something like that already then I didn't come across it researching.

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Are you willing to do ALL the physical work yourself? Assuming that you have a horse or a truck for the shit you can't do?

It's doable, and not super-expensive. Logan once talked about a guy in Maine. Doing it with just himself and a horse. And presumably a $10/hour receptionist.

But if Comcast has signed an exclusivity contract with your locality.... give up now.

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You know what'd be cool? A laid-back franchise company. Seed money for franchisee fiber ISPs, so long as they followed reasonable rules. You kick back a percentage of profit (10-20% after operating costs) and they provide legal help if needed, help you fight stupid exclusivity contracts, give you the infrastructure money...

Would be quite profitable, I'd guess.


Gonna need money for equipment and materials, but mostly to pay the bribes, I mean taxes, as well as pay the unions, etc.

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I mean if I can get symmetrical 10gbps... Fuck it. Sure. If I knew where to start I would try getting my entire neighborhood to kickstart it.

@Yea_boom Cheers!

Interesting idea!

Go down to your city or township and find out what the relationship between them and the local ISPs are. Should be a matter of public record. These relationships will define what you can and cannot do, like the exclusivities that Comcast has negotiated in many places.

If there's no stupidity there... I'd just ask. "Hey, who works with telcos/isps who want to serve the local community? Can I get an hour with that person?"


I would definitely say that greasing the wheels would be a BIG factor in cost. But, don't think just buying up as much fiber optic cabling as possible is the end of it. You are also talking about trenchers, line trucks, lopros, horizontal boaring equipment, fiber splice vans, fusion splicers, renting land to store/ maintain break out/ infrastructure backbone. I mean you can take a pretty good stab and infrastructure costs because that SHOULD be set and have a easy variance to put in for overages per your estimated customer base distances from the node. Is it going to be fiber to the curb or fiber to the home? Would the home installs be hot melts or something quick and easy like unicams for terminations?

Just digging into my knowledgebase, the biggest problem independent company's face/make while estimating your break even point is NOT giving yourself enough time to become profitable before your are in the red. Create a SOLID business plan with a generous loan amount/upfront capital (or even get feelers out for grants/investors) leading you far into the future. Might even consider building your (for the people) internet off of a NPO or non profit organization structure.... You can still be silly "profitable" even as a NPO.


If it's a small community, population wise... forget most of that. Get a work horse and tack instead.

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