Minneapolis completes municipal Wi-Fi network

The Minneapolis Wi-Fi network has been completed after more than 2 years and $20M. The city’s service provider, US Internet, also claims they have 16,500 subscribers and that the number is growing. They hope to reach 30,000 in three years.

The municipal government is an anchor tenant, paying US Internet $1.25M per year (for 10 years) for its own use of the network. The city is adding the police and fire departments to the network. It took a long time for US Internet to reach almost all of Minneapolis.

Of course, saying a wireless network is “complete” fails to grasp the reality of networks. No network is ever finished. Technology changes often and the service provider must upgrade the network’s hardware and software regularly.

I hope that US Internet is upgrading the wireless base stations to 802.11n units soon (if they haven’t done so already). Read our earlier post about the wonders of 802.11n for large-scale outdoor wireless deployments. As more people wander around with Wi-Fi devices and use more bandwidth for their applications, service providers should be moving quickly to deploy 802.11n networks. Otherwise, users will complain about coverage and speed. 802.11n networks offer far more capacity and better interference management than 802.11b or g networks, at lower price points.

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