banner for episode 5 on fiber business model

#5: From WISP to FISP – changing the business model to scale fiber deployment with Ryan Coates

Share this:

WHO IS Ryan Coates?

Ryan Coates, VP of Infrastructure Project Development at Surf Broadband.

Similar to the previous guests like Kevin Peres from Episode 4 of the Become Fiberminded podcast, Ryan has a tremendous experience. He has worked both as a CAD designer as well as a network engineer. He has also founded various companies with one being a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP). He was able to scale the company and the business model successfully so that later this company merged with other WISP´s to become Surf Broadband of today. Surf Broadband is an ISP serving the areas in Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. They focus on School E-Rate, Commercial, and FTTH last-mile.

WHy is Ryan Coates Fiberminded?

In this episode, Ryan will describe the mindset shift, that happened to him and his partners at Surf Broadband three years ago. They had been deploying Wireless Internet to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities successfully but were suddenly losing whole blocks of customers in a week. After some research, they found out, that a new provider was in town which offered a fiber connection to their customers.
At this point, they decided to go all-in into fiber deployment and learned whatever they could about fiber deployments. They also created a successful fiber business model, which is vastly different compared to their wireless business model from earlier.


Changing the business at a 180° angle is certainly challenging. And this is exactly what Ryan is discussing with us. In this episode of Become Fiberminded we will go through the process and lessons learned when moving away from the wireless world to full fiber deployment.

We are discussing the mindset shift, which happened to them when going from a wireless OPEX model to a predominantly CAPEX fiber business case model. Ryan will also share their process in doing site surveys and that the postcard might not be the best medium to gauge the interest for fiber connection in a particular area. At this point, Ryan and his team are capable to predict, the future fiber takeup rate with very good accuracy.

To scale their business, Surf Broadband recently secured additional funding and Ryan is sharing with us, how they use their fiber network as an asset to scale the business model.

Last but not least I asked Ryan if he sees SpaceX Starlink as competition and his answer might surprise you.


Here are the URLs in this episode.

Here are social media links to Ryan:

Want to support the podcast?

  1. Do you like the content length or would you prefer shorther or even longer episodes? Shoot me a DM on Twitter @fiberminded
  2. Tell a friend or colleague about the podcast so I can help more people
  3. Have a question you would like me to answer on the podcast? Send it to

If you are actively helping the fiber optics community to solve problems and enable a faster and better connection for everyone and would like to share this with the world, I’d love to have you on my podcast.

You can schedule a podcast interview by going to my scheduling page

Share this:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *