Wireless in Minneapolis

The new Wi-Fi mesh in Minneapolis is slowly making its way across the city. I live in the pilot area so I’ve had a chance to play with it since July. My access ended recently as USI Wireless (the new US Internet entity for the wireless deployment) began selling accounts in the pilot area.

If you are in the Seward Neighborhood area (around 24th Ave. S. & Franklin), you can check out the USI “Minneapolis Portal” login page. Check for USI Wireless where your network SSIDs are listed. Load a new browser page (or restart the browser in some instances) and you should be at the portal where you can pay $9.95 for a day of wireless browsing (or $3.95 for 15 minutes – yikes!). (I don’t know if you can actually pay-&-browse yet but the technology is there.)

If you live in the Seward area, you can also subscribe to the system for $14.95/month (1-3Mbps) or $24.95/month (3-6Mbps). The subscription service is in place as they sent out a mailing a while back.

A comfortable place for wireless exploration would be the 2nd Moon Coffee Shop at 2225 East Franklin Avenue. You should be able to see the USI Wireless network there and you can browse the Web via the free wireless at 2nd Moon if you don’t want to pay USI for some browsing time.

Here is a map of the Wi-Fi access points in the Seward Neighborhood. As far as I know, this is the only accurate map. The one the City released last year was pre-deployment of the antennas and is almost completely off.

The downtown Minneapolis area is supposed to have access soon or maybe it’s there already. Anyone downtown seeing the network?

The Official Minneapolis Wi-Fi Portal Page has all sorts of links to City information. I don’t think any of the links work yet. Eventually, this page will serve as a Walled (or Civic) Garden, allowing anyone with a Wi-Fi connection free access to City and neighborhood information. What will be available in the Garden is under discussion and if you have ideas, please let me know as I’m on the committee that is working on this. (Comments are always best to keep a discussion going but if you’re shy, email me at pfhyper [@] gmail DOT com.)

One idea put forth by Michael Maranda, a community activist out of Chicago, is that all .gov, .edu, and .org should be made available. His reasoning is that this will serve as a free access system for low income users who can’t afford a monthly fee. It will also be a somewhat “safe” Internet to allow Net Newbies to get their feet wet.

(Please don’t bring up the “free Internet for all” discussion. I agree with that but it ain’t going to happen here in the near future. The best we can do is increase our garden space as much as possible.)

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