ISP License in the USA?

Wayne Bouchard web at
Tue May 31 19:12:03 UTC 2016


Do not confuse a desire from some party you wish to do business
saying, "Our own consultants have said that we shouldn't do business
with anyone not compliant with these standards," as a requirement for
licensure. Bureaucrats simply like certificates and that's all this
really boils down to, a way for consultants and/or politicians to
meddle in both ends of what has previously been a pretty open process,
creating a solution in search of a problem and adding complexity where
it's generally not needed.

In fine, the only thing you need in the US to be an ISP is a network.
The rest is mostly all about trying to get customers from one section
or another of business or of the general public.


On Tue, May 31, 2016 at 11:54:38AM -0700, Eric Flanery (eric) wrote:
> There is no such thing as an 'ISP license' in the US. I have a hard time
> imagining Texas of all places would have such a requirement.
> Depending on what exactly you are doing, there are various and highly
> varied requirements, such as acquiring a SPIN number for E-Rate, filing FCC
> 477 if you do broadband, FCC 499 if you do VoIP (CLEC and ETC also apply
> there), a FRN if you do pretty much anything FCC-related, various sorts of
> licenses for most radio/microwave systems (excepting part 15 stuff), CALEA,
> open internet, etc...
> COALS _could_ apply _if_ you are running a cable TV system that also
> delivers data services, but it isn't an 'ISP thing'.
> More to the point...
> I wouldn't take US legal advice from any consultant not familiar with US
> law, or really any non-lawyer consultant at all. I wouldn't take it from
> NANOG either; while it's a tremendous technical resource, it is not your
> attorney.
> There are a number of telecommunications focused law firms out there, with
> knowledgeable lawyers. It would be a good idea to establish a relationship
> with one, if you intend to enter the increasingly complex legal minefield
> of being an ISP.
> --Eric
> On Tue, May 31, 2016 at 11:24 AM, Dan White <dwhite at> wrote:
> > Not familiar with the process, but look at E-rate if you want to provide
> > service to schools, libraries and health providers.
> >
> >
> > On 05/31/16 13:14 -0500, Lorell Hathcock wrote:
> >
> >> NANOG:
> >>
> >> Our owner has hired a consultant who insists that we should have an ISP
> >> license to operate in the United States.  (Like they have in other
> >> countries
> >> like Germany and in Africa where he has extensive personal experience.)
> >>
> >> I am asking him to tell me which license we should have because I don't
> >> know
> >> of a license that we are required to have to route IP traffic to end
> >> customers.
> >>
> >> I am familiar with CLEC status filed with our state.  But it is not a
> >> requirement to pass traffic.
> >>
> >> He is suggesting COALS with which I am completely unfamiliar.
> >>
> >> Can anyone tell me if there is a Texas state and/or USA Federal license
> >> for
> >> a small operator to pass IP traffic from the internet to end users
> >> (commercial and/or residential).
> >>
> >> I am aware that there are some CALEA requirements of ISPs that seem to
> >> kick
> >> in once a CALEA request is made, but is that different from a license.
> >>
> >
> > --
> > Dan White
> > BTC Broadband
> >

Wayne Bouchard
web at
Network Dude

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