InspiAir’s Solution Works
I personally haven’t experienced MuniFi as it has been rolled out most places. I’ll have to try Google’s WiFi when I’m in Mountain View in a couple weeks. However, on my recent trip to Finland, I was able to experience InspiAir’s solution being deployed in Helsinki. It wasn’t totally live yet, and there were some kinks to work out for sure, and there are some unique issues to have to deal with in Helsinki’s city center, whose buildings have to have metal in the windows to protect against the relentless sun, being an extremely northern country and thus exposed to large amounts of sunlight.
When I saw this article from Katie Fehrenbacher questioning whether or not mesh will be a problem for MuniFi, and whether or not InspiAir’s solution is better, I don’t have too much of a basis for comparison except for maybe experience with my own WiFi access points at home. My own access point, which I realize won’t have as nice antennas or as much power as a commercial deployment, goes maybe 80 feet or so. Occasionally, I can pick it up at the mailbox down the street, which is a good 250 feet away, but I have clear line-of-sight to it. I’ve also installed a Hi-Gain antenna and boosted the power output slightly thanks to hacked Linksys firmware.
Meanwhile, when I was in Helsinki, I accessed an access point a kilometer away with my MacBook while sitting just inside of a building. I was also able to “see” that access point from even further away, but not necessarily use it. That is way farther than I get with conventional WiFi. The bandwidth I was getting at that distance from the access point was also insane. I don’t get anywhere near those results in my work office in Mountain View with our internal WLAN, where the antennas are less than 50 feet away!
InspiAir claims they can cover a wider area with less access points and better speeds. Even if the antennas are more expensive than the competition, a smaller network with fewer nodes has to be easier to manage and maintain than a network with significantly more nodes. That will reduce overall operating costs, which is a good thing in any business.
Even if “mesh” is a problem or not for MuniFi, the solution provided by InspiAir certainly is impressive and bears investigation. And unlike some people’s skepticism about InspiAir, I’ve seen InspiAir’s solution work with my own eyes, so my comments are based on my own experience.