A Guide to Setting Up a Community Internet Network in Rural Areas of Washington

A Guide to Setting Up a Community Internet Network in Rural Areas of Washington

If you live in a rural area of Washington state, you're probably no stranger to the frustrations of slow, unreliable internet service. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of infrastructure and low population density in rural areas, internet service providers (ISPs) often don't offer high-speed internet to those areas.

However, there is a potential solution to this problem: setting up a community internet network. By pooling resources and equipment, communities can create their own internet service that is faster, more reliable, and more affordable than commercial ISPs.

If you're interested in learning more about how to set up a community internet network in your rural Washington community, read on for a step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Gauge Interest and Build a Team

Before you get started with the technical aspects of building your community internet network, it's important to gauge interest in your community and build a team of volunteers. After all, setting up a network of this kind will require a substantial amount of time, effort, and resources from everyone involved.

You can start by hosting a community meeting and asking people to express their interest in a community internet network. From there, you can start building a team of volunteers who are willing to help with tasks like fundraising, network installation, maintenance, and customer service.

Step 2: Determine Your Network's Scope and Goals

Once you have a team in place, you'll need to determine the scope and goals of your community internet network. What areas of your community are you hoping to connect with high-speed internet? How many users are you hoping to serve? What kind of equipment and infrastructure will you need to achieve your goals?

Answering these questions will help you determine the necessary equipment and materials you'll need to purchase, as well as the overall timeline for your project.

Step 3: Research and Purchase Equipment

With your team and project goals in place, it's time to start researching and purchasing the equipment necessary to set up your community internet network. This may include things like fiber optic cable, wireless antennas, routers, and switches, as well as any special software necessary to manage your network.

Depending on the scope and goals of your project, you may be able to purchase equipment directly from retailers like Amazon or Best Buy. However, if you're planning a larger-scale project, you may need to order equipment directly from manufacturers or work with a distributor.

Step 4: Install and Configure Your Network

Once you have all the equipment and materials you need, it's time to start installing and configuring your network. This process will likely involve laying fiber optic cable or setting up wireless antennas to create a network "backbone," as well as installing routers and switches to connect users to the internet.

It's important to note that this step may require a lot of technical expertise, so you may need to recruit volunteers or hire professionals to help with the installation and configuration process.

Step 5: Offer Support and Maintenance

After your network is up and running, it's crucial to offer ongoing support and maintenance to keep it operating smoothly. This may include things like troubleshooting technical issues, fielding customer service questions, and updating software and hardware as needed.

It's also important to establish a system for funding ongoing maintenance and upgrades, which may include regular fundraising efforts or subscription fees for users.


Setting up a community internet network is a rewarding and challenging endeavor that can provide high-speed internet access to rural communities that would otherwise be underserved by commercial ISPs. By following the steps outlined above and building a dedicated team of volunteers, you can help your community stay connected and thrive in the digital age.

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