The $20 million Minneapolis wireless Internet network has been completed after 2 1/2 difficult years of technical and political delays. The city’s next step: getting the police and fire departments using it this year.
The City’s basic requirement was for coverage of 95% of it’s 59.5 miles and performance meets the City’s expectations, according to Minneapolis Chief Information Officer Lynn Willenbring. There are 16,500 private subscribers, according to Joe Caldwell, marketing vice president of US Internet, which owns and operates the network. The company hopes for 30,000 individual customers.Getting City departments to use the wireless network is another story. So far Sprint cellular services trump US Internet Wi-Fi services with the City using less than half of the $1.25 million a year worth of services it’s paying for. Luckily unused money can roll over to future years of the 10-year contract. (What happens if there is still unused money after ten years?) Esme Vos wrote about the network today at MuniWireless, stressing the need to upgrade to 802.11n units sooner rather than later if it’s not been done already. (I don’t think it has.) US Internet has improved customer service in the last year and now sends out (and charges for) a technician on each install. General satisfaction of users on the system seems to be growing. I’m seeing far fewer complaints via my Google Alerts than in previous years.