Electronic School, January 1999, p. A14

Some schools have solved the technology funding problem by starting up for-profit ISP companies whose revenues support their schools.

By selling Internet access to their communities, schools are able to pay for the costs of providing Internet access to their students and teachers. Some schools launch ISPs that make enough profit to fund additional technology equipment, while others are designed to break even with their Internet access costs.<

But before you rush out and start up an ISP at your school, consider these expert tips from those who have been there:

  1. Make sure there’s community demand. You don’t want to become an ISP if your community is already well-served by a number of different Internet service providers. Rural and small-town locations are most ideally suited, provided you have enough of a subscriber base. And if your community is too large, demand could outstrip your ability to meet it.

  2. Get tech experts. You won’t be able to start your own ISP without in-house computer and networking experts who can help manage the ISP’s operations. People with a technology and business background would be best.

  3. Watch for legal pitfalls. You must consult with a lawyer before forming any kind of for-profit enterprise on school property to ensure that you’re not breaking any laws. This area of the law is gray, but with advice from a lawyer, you should be able to navigate around any pitfalls.

  4. Get help from students. To help support the customer demands on an ISP, you’ll need to enlist the help of your students. This provides an invaluable experience for them in technology and an actual business that will better prepare them for a high-tech job market.