MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – US Internet announced plans on Friday to radically increase speeds of its municipal wireless internet network.

The Minnetonka-based company has spent two years developing a new method of transmitting wireless internet.

The method involves a device, called a time-division multiplexing, or TDM, node, which is attached to the side of a user’s home and can send an internet signal at broadband speeds, through the walls, to the user’s router.

“I think we have solved a municipal wireless problem that has plagued the industry for years,” said Travis Carter, a USI co-founder. “We put a lot of time, effort, energy, money and testing into this, and I think it’s a viable, viable solution.”

US Internet hopes to debut a plan that costs $19.95 a month, with speeds of 25 Mbps, in northeast Minneapolis by late spring or summer.

The new network is separate from the company’s fiber-based service. The TDM nodes can also broadcast Wi-Fi directly, and they will eventually replace USI’s existing Wi-Fi network.

Carter said Wi-Fi speeds in coverage areas will show improvement in speed and reliability. The company’s initial testing and field trials in Minnetonka show that YouTube and Netflix will be able to stream smoothly in high definition.

Starting next week, USI crews will be installing 20 TDM nodes on First and Washington avenues and on Nicollet Mall, in order to test the nodes’ Wi-Fi signal strength. Carter said they are beta testing in downtown Minneapolis because the tall buildings and elevated radio-frequency interference make for a worst-case Wi-Fi service environment.

By Zac Farber

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