I first caught wind of this yesterday at the L’Etoile site which featured Vanessa Messersmith’s photo of the USI Wireless (USIW) billboard along with the comment “Thanks USI Wireless for being just like a prostitute.” In an email conversation, Vanessa elaborated a bit:
The woman is dressed in classic Hollywood street corner girl clothing. She is wearing a fur coat, has her head tilted, almost like chewing gum, and she appears like a sexy dumb girl. If not a prostitute, then perhaps a small town trashy girl. Either way you look at it, my friend and I were shocked and offended. How else am I suppose to interpret this ad?
In the post at the Issues Forum, Stacey Burns does an excellent job explaining why this ad is particularly demeaning in our city. I will just add that beyond the prostitution issue, this ad is just plain offensive particularly to women. I hope USIW understands this.
Clearwire has a proposal in to provide a WiMax wireless network for Brooklyn Park. This will be the first WiMax network that I know of in this area. No investment by the Brooklyn Park; customers would pay for the service. Ostensibly they want to provide connectivity to people on lower incomes but prices they are mentioning do not seem very “low income” to me. (Maybe there is a tier they are not mentioning.)
US Internet president Joe Caldwell says that Clearwire’s arrival “doesn’t bother me a bit.” That’s interesting given that early on in the Minneapolis Wi-Fi deployment, US Internet was hopeful that other cities surrounding Minneapolis would want to contract with US Internet for wireless services. There was even talk of customers having the ability to use Wi-Fi across city borders if US Internet was the provider.
I would tend to be worried if I was US Internet. I don’t think anything is stopping a company like Clearwire from providing services in Minneapolis if they could hang the transmitters. They could target areas of high usage like downtown and not be under any contract to cover the City. That could be a potent threat to US Internet’s business model. (This is all conjecture on my part, of course. There could be something legal prohibiting another wireless provider.)
Read the story at tradingmarkets.com
Minneapolis is officially unwired says the Star Tribune:
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.