ISP License in the USA?

Jared Mauch jared at
Tue May 31 20:30:52 UTC 2016

> On May 31, 2016, at 4:16 PM, William Herrin <bill at> wrote:
> On Tue, May 31, 2016 at 2:14 PM, Lorell Hathcock <lorell at> wrote:
>> 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.)
> Howdy,
> There is generally no license required to be an ISP.
> If you wish to own physical infrastructure located in the public right
> of ways or use licensed radio frequencies, there are various licensing
> and regulatory requirements.
> We call those "cable companies," "telcos," "LECs," or "CLECs" even if
> they also provide ISP service.
> If you lease your long-haul cabling infrastructure (from folks who are
> licensed) or implement physical infrastructure only on property you
> own or lease, you need not address licensing yourself.

In some cases it’s very simple to do something, in Michigan (for example) you
can run fiber and place items in the right of way by meeting the standards of
a Metro Permit, eg:,5798,7-333-23730-221070--,00.html

For most places, you just need to pay the state or local licensing
fees.  You can generally do this for low cost, setting up a new C-corp
or LLC is $50 to file in my area.  Well worth it if you just want to
establish yourself as a legal entity.  Then you can do business with
that and usual minimal paperwork.  You can pay hundreds to nearly
infinite money to establish your structure(s).

You do need to have some sort of TIN or EIN.  This gets complex and
imposes requirements, consult an accountant, CPA or lawyer as well
in this area.  It shouldn’t be more than $1k to establish the legal entity
unless there are very complex situations involved.

Unless you are offering certain regulated services, the bar is quite
low to establish a company and maintain yourself.  I’d say when possible
avoid complex programs, they tend to come with high reporting and auditing

- Jared

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