Minnesota EDGE/GPRS, EV-DO, HSDPA, and WiMAX
High-Speed Internet Access Service Providers
Welcome to BWE's
Directory of Minnesota 3G Wireless Internet Access Providers (located
at the bottom of this page), which are using licensed 3G spectrum to deliver
mobile broadband wireless connections that provide voice over IP (VoIP), video
on demand and numerous wireless Internet data services. Unlike, Wi-Fi providers,
the 3G cellular carriers use licensed spectrum and wireless standards
such as EDGE, EV-DO, HSDPA or WiMAX to deliver high-speed Internet and
other wireless services.
The wireless world can be a confusing one. There are many different categories of
wireless Internet access service providers. To help clear things up and make it easier to
understand, this article includes a quick and easy-to-understand wireless Internet service provider
overview that discusses of the various flavors of wireless Internet access service and how
they have developed over time as well as predictions for future wireless Internet access service providers.
Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) have been delivering up to 54Mbps of wireless
Internet access bandwidth from a wireless base station to a fixed wireless antenna for the last
five years using unlicensed spectrum. One problem that perplexed most fixed Wireless ISP's progression
and revenue stream in the early days was their limited wireless coverage areas that usually only included
several small cities or towns.
Even though there are more than 4,000 WISPs operating in the United
States today, they have not grown very large because their customers are fixed and can not roam outside their
Internet access provider's wireless coverage area. This is due to the fixed antenna that is mounted
to the outside of structure in the same way that satellite TV dishes are installed.
And while fixed wireless connections deliver badly needed high-speed Internet connections, WISPs have never
that were big enough to offer true mobile wireless roaming applications like the cell phone networks that most
people are used to using on the road.
To generate new subscribers, many fixed Wireless ISPs began offering cheap wireless T1 circuits to local retail outlets
and coffee shops so they could provide high-speed Internet access to their customers. This gave rise to hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi hotspot Internet access providers.
Wi-Fi customers couldn't roam from one Wi-Fi hotspot to another, but they could easily get high-speed
Internet connections at just about any coffee shop, hotel or fast food restaurant that had a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
Unlike WISPs with fixed wireless customers, the typical Wi-Fi hotspot customer is a mobile user armed with
a laptop and cell phone. The large number of Wi-Fi public hotspots makes it possible for road warriors to sit down and
work from almost anywhere they can find public Wi-Fi Internet access. If the customer subscribed to a VoIP service,
they could event conduct phone calls over the Internet for free.
The combination of Wi-Fi and Wireless VoIP frightened every cell phone carrier on the planet
had the potential to completely replace their lucrative mobile voice service platform. As a result, their engineers
quickly devised several new mobile Internet access services of their own that used licensed spectrum such as EDGE/GPRS,
EV-DO, and HSDPA to provide voice and data applications.
The only problem with the 3G
Internet services is that 3G connections are very slow, barely faster than dialup. Regardless of what the 3G wireless carriers
their commercials, their real world performance hasn't been that good. For example, a cell phone can only deliver 100-200 Kbps of bandwidth versus
Wi-Fi's standard connection of around 1-5Mbps. The bandwidth difference is tremendous and only Wi-Fi can provide
the speeds that all of today's mobile multimedia smart phones, wireless Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs),
and growing arsenal of wireless Blackberry type devices need to process their customer's information fast.
The 3G carriers are currently running TV commercials touting their larger coverage areas, and trying to position
Wi-Fi as low-grade service with unpredictable service. This shows the 3G carriers real fear about Wi-Fi. The truth
of the matter is that Wi-Fi coverage areas exist almost everywhere and 3G Internet access is limited to only big cities.
Expensive EV-DO cards don't work in rural areas, but Wi-Fi can be found at nearly every coffee shop, hotel and truck stop
along all major interstates and freeways.
To make matters worse for the 3G wireless providers, their technology is very expensive to deploy. Wi-Fi has been
around for years, the technology is dependable and the equipment can be bought at almost any computer retail outlet.
Adding to the momentum, smart wireless Internet access providers and local municipal governments are quickly adopting a new type of
outdoor Wi-Fi technology, called a Wi-Fi Meshed Networks. Mesh Networks connect thousands of Wi-Fi access points
together through a single network and provide better coverage areas than most cell phone carriers' 3G wireless networks.
Wi-Fi Mesh Networks are very powerful and are finally providing the type of wireless roaming service
that most cell phone customers are used to receiving. Even better, Wi-Fi meshed networks provide
much faster Internet connections and make very cost-effective VoIP phone calls possible.
One reason that Wi-Fi will overcome 3G wireless networks is that 3G Internet connections are much slower than
their Wi-Fi Internet counterparts. As more and more cities and towns build municipal citywide Wi-Fi mesh networks, Wi-Fi probably
will probably surpass 3G. The shift in power from 3G to Wi-Fi will be dramatic, but does not imply that the
3G carriers will go out of business anytime soon. Wi-Fi currently has about eighteen times more bandwidth
to share with customers than even the best 3G wireless service (54Mbps vs. 3Mbps).
In fact, the same people who invented Wi-Fi, which was really only intended for indoor use, have been working
over time to get a newer, even faster outdoor Wi-Fi standard completed. The new outdoor standard is known as WiMAX
and has a great opportunity to change the way the way all wireless Internet Service providers provide
wireless services to their customers. WiMAX is young and it will be a while before WiMAX networks
are available, but companies like Clearwire and Sprint are working very hard to change that.
Clearwire already has several hundred thousand customers on their proprietary version of WiMAX. Sprint
has been quiet on their progress, but they are by far one of the best companies to watch in this area.
Although Clearwire is making good progress, Sprint owns an incredible amount MMDS spectrum (190Mhz), a lot more
than Clearwire (30MHz), which gives Sprint a huge advantage. If Craig McCaw is serious about deploying broadband
wireless using MMDS spectrum, he will have to buy Sprint Nextel to deliver a nationwide MMDS WiMAX service.
In 1999, the MMDS spectrum Sprint bought cost them about $3 billion. That was way before anyone
knew that you could use a wireless connection to access the Internet. Times have changed and Sprint's
spectrum is probably now worth around $300-$500 billion. Not even McCaw nor Intel can raise that kind of money.
This information in this article was probably more than you really needed to know, but it definitely will help you make an informed
choice before purchasing a new wireless communications handset. The best bet these days will be a dual-chip
3G cell phone that can utilize both Wi-Fi and 3G wireless Internet access provider networks. The ability to
access a cheaper, faster Wi-Fi connection until Wi-Fi and WiMAX become ubiquitous will a great asset to have if you
are a mobile business executive that travels a lot. When no Wi-Fi is available, you can still tap
into the more expensive, but slower 3G wireless Internet access providers' networks.
Below is an alphabetical listing of cities covered by 3G wireless Internet access service providers in Minnesota
such as Cingular Wireless,
Verizon Wireless and Sprint Wireless. Each 3G wireless provider is adding markets on a regular basis.
If you don't find you the city you are searching for listed below, please check with their online database of wireless Internet markets at the
Cingular 3G Wireless Internet Coverage Map,
Sprint 3G Wireless Internet Coverage Map, or
Verizon 3G Wireless
Internet Coverage Map.
If 3G wireless Internet access isn't available, you might check BWE's other Directories of Wireless Internet Access Providers:
If you would like to list your wireless Internet access service provider
in the Broadband Wireless Exchange Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP)
directory, please contact Robert Hoskins at (480) 218-4441.