Community-Oriented Internet Service Providers

Herein I sketch a model for a Community-oriented Internet Service Provider (CISP). I define a CISP as any ISP who works with local institutions to provide services of local or special interest. Some providers such as LibertyNet focus on a local region exclusively. I think that the press's focus on business and commerce on the Net has distracted many ISPs from recognizing the importance of supporting their local communities. I hope my comments help ISPs and ISP customers to build local and special interest communities on the Net! I think Hillary Rodham Clinton is correct, "It takes a Village"!

Advantages of CISPs for Internet users

I think the community-oriented ISP could become one of the centerpoints of local affairs. They could become the town hall for your region. The place where issues are discussed and actions begin. CISPs may become the embodiment of the motto "Think globally, act locally".

If you would like to find a CISP near you check out The List of Internet Service Providers and ask each ISP who supports local dial-up access to you what community services they provide.

Here's my current list of reasons to join a CISP:

Notes for CISPs

Small businesses are not easy to run. And running an ISP is so extraordinarily complicated that not anyone can do it (there is no such thing as an ISP in a box!). However, with the right marketing plan, a strong base in your community, and an Internet guru, you may be able to build a successful Internet business.

If you are just starting to think about becoming an ISP, read the Internet Provider Resources web page. If you need consulting advice, I'm available. And subscribe to the inet-access mailing list (

Many CISPs have adopted the home/office model and save tremendously on the overhead of office space. Since becoming an ISP (with a home/office arrangement) can be accomplished for something like $50,000 in the greater Philadelphia area, it is possible for smaller entrepreneurs to "play." These factors mean that enterprising "Mom & Pop" ISPs appear to be a viable business operation.

I have been working with several small ISPs to develop marketing ideas for CISPs. Here's a list of some of my thinking about how to support your community and run a successful "Mom & Pop" ISP business. Depending on your values, some of these would be done as a pro bono community service, others might be offered as an introductory promotion and others would only be offered "at the going rate". Such decisions I'll leave to each businessperson's individual choice.

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