Minneapolis Unwired: Status and a report at W2i

Has USI Wireless (USIW), builders of the Minneapolis Wi-Fi mesh network, officially finished Phase 1 (the downtown area and near downtown and where I happen to live). Local media hasn’t reported and the two official mailing lists–one from City of Minneapolis and one from USIW–have been silent.

Today, via Google Alerts, I found a current report of sorts dates July 25. It’s by James Farstad, the City’s wireless consultant. It’s remarkably frank and gives some insight into the building out process and some of the problems USIW is facing.

Here’s a copy of the phase map with the current schedule.

Some highlights…

  • Although it doesn’t say that Phase 1 is done, it says Phase 2 has started.
  • The network does cover 12 miles and it worked on a T-Mobile Wi-Fi device.
  • Electrification is a big problem. Crushed conduit is a big problem as it has to be replaced. There are also permits to consider.
  • Phase 2 should go faster because of the standard street grid but there is some road construction and missing poles to hang the nodes.
  • Phase 3 is parks and lakes and potential headaches. Farstad: “I’ve asked the team to locate solar powered artificial pine trees that we can plant.” Wow.
  • Customer experience is important (sign-up, sales, support, etc.). Farstad: “Some early test interactions indicate there is work to do here and it has become an important focal point this week.” Statements of poor customer service have been reported at the community wireless meetings.

Read the full report and watch for more. There are a couple of other articles on the local deployment listed here.

And USIW, it’s still not too late to implement some of my community wireless related recommendations. (They got a bit of airplay via MuniWireless.)

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