MSP Airport Debuts Free Wi-Fi with Ads

Travelers passing through the local airport now have access to free wireless Internet—including occasional advertisements—or a premium $2.95 service, which offers ad-free service at faster speeds.

“Business travelers have been hankering for free Wi-Fi” at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for “quite some time,” according to Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) spokesman Patrick Hogan.
 
Now, those traveling for business (or leisure) have access to free wireless Internet—including occasional advertisements—or a premium $2.95 service, which offers ad-free service at faster speeds.
 
The new wireless service is administered by Doral, Florida-based Advanced Wireless Group (AWG). According to Hogan, the AWG and MAC will split revenues from advertisements and premium service fees, and the revenue is expected to cover the costs of implementing the new service. The MAC owns and operates MSP and six other airports in Minnesota.
 
Travelers can access complimentary wireless Internet by selecting “MSP-WiFi” from the available networks on their laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Or, they can visit airportwifi.com/MSP.
 
Once connected, travelers are shown a 30-second advertisement with the option of skipping the ad by taking a four- to five-question survey—after which they’re granted 45 minutes of uninterrupted Internet connection. After the time expires, users are shown another ad or survey prior to beginning another 45-minute session. Travelers can access the Wi-Fi indefinitely, as long as they watch the ads or take the surveys every 45 minutes.
 
The free Wi-Fi service offers download speeds of at least 1 megabit per second, according to Hogan, who said that connection speeds will vary a bit based on a user’s location in the airport. That speed is acceptable for checking e-mail and browsing the Web but could be too slow for users looking to download large files or stream video.
 
Travelers who pay $2.95 receive 24 hours of uninterrupted Wi-Fi—with significantly faster download speeds of at least 5 megabits per second.
 
Hogan suggested that business travelers accessing their company accounts via a virtual private network (VPN) connection and managing large files opt for the faster premium service, which “costs a fraction” of what travelers previously paid at MSP.
 
Prior to the deal with AWG, travelers paid up to $7.95 to access public Wi-Fi at the airport.