Minneapolis cuts the ribbon on muni Wi-Fi network

It’s a bit behind schedule and somewhat over budget but, by the end of the month, Minneapolis‘ muni Wi-Fi network will be a reality. And, by all reports, folks there think it’s worth the wait. The network merited its share of attention last year following the collapse of an interstate highway bridge in the city, performing data communications services for first responders after the city’s cellular service failed to deliver.

The city’s choice of private partners seems to be the “secret ingredient” of its success. While nearby St. Louis Park is considering suing its service provider to recover losses on a solar-powered network it recently abandoned, Minneapolis appears to be working well with local firm, U.S. Internet, to overcome the problems it encountered.

USI, based in nearby Minnetonka, has spent several million dollars on additional antennas and hardware to insure appropriate coverage. For its part, the city has helped to assure the financial stability of the network by signing on as an anchor tenant with USI.According to a report from Minnesota Public Radio: “As an anchor tenant, the city accounts for more than $1 million a year. So far U.S. Internet has signed up more than 5,000 subscribers. Company officials said 8,000 people have preregistered for the service, and they said the network will be self-sustaining once they reach 10,000 subscribers. And they say the company really hasn’t done much marketing for the service.”