> Like you said, the prices are reasonable, that is if you have 
> that sort of cash laying around.  It would be very cool to 
> develop neighborhood, and then possibly city-wide ISP type 
> networks where users could share the burden of equipment and 
> connection costs.  The startup equipment costs for the end 
> user (for the canopy system) are pretty darned high compared 
> to cable, and even to DSL.  

Actually, this is much less than the startup costs for cable or DSL.  With
either of those, you have to have an existing cable or phone line
infrastructure, neither of which is cheap.  For all practical purposes, this
is much much cheaper.

> The question of money is pretty critical - if we, as the 
> TCWUG developed a city wide system, and then had end users 
> pay for access, we'd almost by definition have to be 
> non-profit.  That's doesn't mean that we, collectively, 
> couldn't make money off of the idea, it's just a lot 
> different from your basic ISP startup who's sole purpose is 
> to make money, and preferrably lots of it.  

Onvoy started out at MRNet, which was a non-profit.  After they got real
big, they converted to a for-profit business.  I don't know the steps
involved in doing this, but it is possible.

> made.  But if we got in at the ground floor (or would that be 
> the second floor, altitude wise?), and established a presence 
> before Earthlink/AOL/whoever comes in and drops million$ on 
> the Twin Cities, this idea might just survive. 

Actually, that's exactly it.  We wouldn't necessarily get getting in on the
ground floor since there are a couple of other ISP's here in town that do
this (Implex.net and sbwireless.net (or .com or .org, I forget which)).
Even so, if we have an existing infrastructure when AOL/TW/Intel/whatever
comes in, there's always the possibility to sell it to them rather than be
put out of business.  However, given the amount of freedom that AOL/TW/ATT
Broadband current gives their customers, it would likely be very easy to
compete against them.  Just don't modify people's traffic, don't block
anything, let them run servers, provide static IP's, and provide tiered
service levels.  All of these things are an improvement over ATT Broadband's
shitty network, and if ATT came in and offered wireless, it's probably safe
to say it's going to suck just as much as their cable modem service does.