St. Cloud ranked no. 1 metro Wi-Fi deployment

St. Cloud got the top honors in the metro Wi-Fi deployment contest because it has 100% service availability throughout the community, delivered good performance across town and is free and easy to use. Novarum’s findings show that a network where Internet access is free of charge can deliver a better user experience than those that do charge for access.

Others in the top ten list are Mountain View, Toronto, Anaheim, Philadelpha, Santa Clara, Galt, Palo Alto, Tempe and Madison.

Performance is controlled by the service provider who can limit the amount of bandwidth but it is also affected by the number of wireless mesh nodes deployed in an area. The top city on the list is Toronto. According to Novarum, the best performing network in Toronto had the highest node density and the 10th ranked network had the lowest node density of networks in the list.

Combined cellular and Wi-Fi ratings

St. Cloud got top marks again in the overall combined cellular and Wi-Fi ranking because of 100% availability and speed. Sprint’s service in Mountain View, however, got second place. The criteria for inclusion in this list are performance and service availability, ease of use and value of the service. Eight of the top ten rated networks are cellular networks. They are after all more mature than metro Wi-Fi services.

Roaming charges and speed matter

So if cellular networks outperform metro Wi-Fi, why should people even bother deploying municipal wireless broadband networks? I can think of at least two reasons:

(1) Horrendous roaming charges: when I travel outside the Netherlands, my cellular provider charges me a lot of money (15 EUR per megabyte) for cellular data service. I got a bill for 250 EUR when I was in Lisbon last November for light web browsing and checking email on my mobile phone. Having Wi-Fi everywhere will allow people like me to avoid the highway robbery that the mobile operators carry out on people who travel (ironically, it’s those who are truly mobile who suffer most).

(2) Speed: Toronto’s network delivered downstream throughput of 2212 kbps and 1611 kbps upstream (averaged across all locations tested) and indeed service from some locations was in excess of 5000 kbps in both directions. HSDPA networks can’t even deliver that kind of bandwidth.


  1. Just a note about the St. Cloud, FL Network. These performance tests were run when the network was not optimal. We are anticipating some new network optimization efforts in the next few months that will dramatically enhance the performance of the network. This network was designed and Implemented by Hewlett-Packard Mobility, Voice and Network Solutions Organization (MVNSO).

  2. Would be interesting to see what criteria and tests these boys did to determine performance.
    Would also like to know if they considered cost/node to install and cost/node/mo to maintain ??
    These are key for us in the Service Provider business and will also be for the Munipality as these networks grow and they need to step in and support their providers as they expand or upgrade their network to deal with real world use.
    In short anyone can deploy a Node/AP every 500 feet or so and include a Gateway every 3rd Node/AP and get great performance.
    Just love it when vendors say that the best networks are the ones with the most Nodes/Sq Mile-What great spin.