Skip to content

MAC launching new, unified Wi-Fi service for its corporate needs and travelers

The Metropolitan Airports Commission's (MAC) IT department recently installed a new Wi-Fi system for wireless access on the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) campus, designed for greater bandwidth demands in the future.

The new system provides Wi-Fi 6 technology for high-speed access – the most innovative available – and is enhanced with significant bandwidth and redundancy capabilities. The unified system will also provide staff with much better coverage and is capable of supporting the growing number of devices connected to the Internet.

The MAC has invited airport tenants to use the new public system for their basic needs at no cost, rather than having to individually construct independent systems. This eliminates concerns about hundreds of individual systems possibly interfering with each other.

The effort, led by the IT department, creates a single system that serves both the MAC's corporate needs as well as passengers in the terminals.

"We started this initiative almost two years ago, long before the COVID-19 era, and we'll be realizing the benefits long after passengers have returned to the terminal," says Eduardo Valencia, the MAC's chief information officer. "We're seeing continued growth in people's streaming activity and we're getting out in front of that."

Wi-Fi service is also an important part of the overall airport experience, showing up as part of MSP's ASQ score, which gauges customer satisfaction.

This spring, crews from the IT department started the process by installing new Wi-Fi access points (antennas) in the General Offices Building. They then moved to the trades building, field maintenance and all other locations where MAC employees are located.

More than 280 MAC access points have been replaced for better service. You will see the new network choice in your MAC-owned laptop's connections manager with the name WCFS. It should connect automatically following a one-time reboot.

Your personal and MAC-issued mobile devices will need to connect to the new network. Select "WCFM" in your device's settings function. The password is #M$Pnice.

In addition to providing better service for MAC employees, the new network also now serves passengers and others connecting to Wi-Fi in MSP's buildings, including the terminals. In and around the public areas of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, IT crews have connected 260 access points, replacing the service that Boingo had provided.

"We wanted a single service for the long term," said Gregg Goudy, MAC IT's director of Infrastructure and Operations, and responsible for the system. "It's easier to have one infrastructure rather than two."

The MAC plans to continue investing in the system, adding more access points in existing areas and ensuring the platform can easily and efficiently support e-commerce needs in the terminals. The MAC has also hired a contractor to monitor and support the wired and wireless networks on a 24-7 basis, which further enhances system availability and performance.

"Passengers' use of public Wi-Fi has evolved significantly over the past three years," Goudy says. "It's no longer just phone calls and email, it's video conferencing, downloading and streaming, and simultaneous use of multiple devices."