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Emerging Member
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎09-07-2017
Kudos: 5

Customer Owned CPE?

[ Edited ]

Buddy of mine asked if it would be possible to allow customers to buy the CPE (WISP) in order to avoid monthly equipment rental (back when I was still considering an equipment rental fee).

My gut instinct was to tell him "absolutely not"

He inevitably asked why...

I thought about it for a sec then said "unlike a wired connection, a wireless connection could have issues that wouldn't be obvious to an end user. Like with the signal itself".

So, my question is. How far off was I? And wouldn't there also be security concerns?

Established Member
Posts: 1,194
Registered: ‎12-07-2009
Kudos: 402
Solutions: 41

Re: Customer Owned CPE?

I am not a WISP but I own my own cable modem. Cox cable in my case still has all the rights to manage the device. I don't pay a fee to rent the modem but if it fails it is on me to get it replaced. Cox cable can upgrade the firmware as needed and they do not notify me in any case. 


There may be some advantages in allowing customers to own thier own CPE. For one it would free up some of your capital. Second if the device fails the end user would have to pay for a replacement. Third if an end user decides to cancel service you can delete your security settings that allow them to connect to your network remotely and avoid a truck roll. Forth if you upgrade your AP end equipment you may be able to offer higher speeds at an increased cost to users that upgrade thier end with less cost on your part. Lastly you can still offer a smaller fee for maintenance services such as dish alignments or cabeling issues. 


Of course depending on what you are charging per month per CPE and how often they are replaced it could cost you some money. 

Regular Member
Posts: 605
Registered: ‎03-17-2016
Kudos: 112
Solutions: 39

Re: Customer Owned CPE?

I agree it's not a good idea. Simply for the fact that the WISP manages the device and if any issues arise the customer won't know what to do nor should they be liable for it in any way.
I can see a customer providing/paying for a router/wireless device possibly but not the actual radio itself. But this depends on how you run your network and which device does the actual routing.
I find it a little odd actually to have the customer purchase the radio/cpe. The radios are the main infrastructure for a WISP and the cost/maintenance is just part of playing the game.
For us the customer pays a small "fee" monthly for the router and not the radio. This ensures cost is covered for any replacement or uogrades needed in the future. We like to provide all equipment and manage all equipment. This makes it a turn key solution for the customer and we are 100% responsible for everything.
Another fact of managing even the router is wireless issues. Some customers get noise/interference locally and have no idea how to combat it. To them the "internet is slow/bad" when in reality the channel just needs to be changed. We can do this remotely even and the average customer wouldn't have a clue to what is going on.
Posts: 296
Registered: ‎05-29-2014
Kudos: 41
Solutions: 4

Re: Customer Owned CPE?

I disagree with the sediment, I think its a fine idea, with some stipulations.  I often have people buy gear upgrades that I won't afford for them, people who want "the best" possible signal.  In these situations it saves me the cost of a CPE at their house and puts the risk of defects/lightening strikes on them for replacement.


When a customer has their own gear, I don't treat it much differently than my CPEs.  I use my configs, and align during install the same as I would with mine.  They have no access to the CPE configuration.  


I had a guy pickup an airprism with a backhaul dish because he wanted to make sure his signal was the strongest it could be.  I told him what gear would accomplish it and he bought it.  Really solid install, not sure he needed a 30dbi for a 2 mile link, but he really wanted it.  Definitely modulate at 8x on that one.



Established Member
Posts: 1,194
Registered: ‎12-07-2009
Kudos: 402
Solutions: 41

Re: Customer Owned CPE?

With our cable company the choice to purchase or lease the modem is the customers. I know that from my perspective the modem will likely cost me less money long term if I buy it versus lease. 


I think that the model with the option to purchase may be the best overall. This gives those customers that want to purchase the hardware the option of doing so with them taking the risk of a device failure. It a customer wants to pay for an upgraded setup that provides a stronger signal or increased throughput that might be a good option. As the provider you can always sell the equipment direct to your customers but they would then avoid a rental fee. 


The key is to break down your costs and give the customer the option. I know that I pay a month fee with Dish for equipment rental, another for maintenace in case something breaks etc. The same thing can be done for a WISP. Have one fee for the internet service based on speed. One fee for equipment rental. One fee for maintenance. Some customers may want to pay for a modem or radio up front but not pay a maintenance fee and pay for repairs as needed. I would guess that most would choose to rent the modem and pay the fee as it limits the costs they might have to pay. Have the rental fees based on a standard installation. Extras such as a larger dish or an upgraded radio would cost extra. 

Regular Member
Posts: 415
Registered: ‎10-13-2016
Kudos: 111
Solutions: 10

Re: Customer Owned CPE?

If people are looking to save money and try to purchase the CPE, let them buy out the lease with a one time fee, but the WISP still own/maintain the EQ.

Posts: 4,787
Registered: ‎05-02-2008
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Re: Customer Owned CPE?

F that. Customer owned cpe will hold back your network when YOU decide its time for a forklift upgrade.  Build the cost of replacements in and suck it up.

If you're not gaming online, you're just playing with yourself !
Emerging Member
Posts: 91
Registered: ‎05-30-2015
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Solutions: 3

Re: Customer Owned CPE?

It doesn't make any sense for them to want to own it anyway, there's no real benefit to the customer and it doesn't solve any long term potential issues either for them. 

As to the capital savings comment: we structured our install fees around the cost of equipment and consumables averaged at each install. We cover the hard cost with the install fee and lay out the labor cost over the subscription revenue. We like to see full ROI in obtaining a customer within the first 30-60 days. If a 'special' build is required, the install fee goes up. This has worked out quiet well for us so far and doesn't drain cash over any significant length of time. We've found people are more accepting of one time costs than small increases in recurring costs. 

That said, we almost exclusively serve businesses and high end residential.

Colter \'kohl-ter '\ vb : to be Ubiquiti noob.
Colter \'kohl-ter '\ n : The notorious "hold my beer, I got this" guy.
Posts: 11,506
Registered: ‎12-08-2008
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Contributions: 1

Re: Customer Owned CPE?

[ Edited ]

There are several reasons why having the customer provide or buy their own CPE or router is a Bad Idea - one which is often overlooked on the router side is that if it gets infected by some malware (thinking of a lot of Linksys devices here) and you have no way to upgrade it it can cause issues in your network.   In our case in Colorado there is no tax on services but there is on hardware, so we just don't want to sell hardware much.  Also retaining ownership of the gear means you can depreciate it and use it as an asset on your books etc, which you can't do if you sell it to the customer.   Plus when a customer leaves we can recycle the units and use them elsewhere so we don't need to purchase quite as many units in total.   And the system upgrade issue is a big one - what do you do if they buy the radio and then you decide to upgrade the network?  They're not going to be happy being forced to buy a new AC or LTU radio all over again.


Standardisation is also a big plus - if every customer has the same firewall internally, and you can remotely manage it, that makes everything much easier in the long run.   We're looking at standardising on the AirCubes as the CPE firewall for residential, and using UNMS to manage them 9plus UCRM for all cust..omer functions).   Just like you use all UBNT gear for the CPE, it's just simpler when every subscriber has the same equipment in the house as well...


Just much simpler to keep as much as possible in house.   We also don't charge any "fee" for any hardware on customer premeses - we just build the cost for a decent ROI into the monthly price.   All the money goes into the same pot anyway, right?


" How can anyone trust Scientists? If new evidence comes along, they change their minds! " Politician's joke (sort of...)

"Humans are allergic to change..They love to say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ I try to fight that. "Admiral Grace Hopper, USN, Computer Scientist