US Internet has set up 117 Wi-Fi hotspots around the city of Minneapolis, as part of its contract with the city. Many of the hotspots are in public parks and other locations. US Internet has deployed the largest citywide Wi-Fi network in the United States, and Minneapolis is paying $1.25 million per year for 10 years for its own use of the network.
But here’s an odd thing: the Wi-Fi hotspots provide free Wi-Fi service to anyone who wants it but . . . you need a credit card. Why, might I ask, do you need a credit card to get FREE Wi-Fi service? What about people who don’t have a credit card or forgot their credit card at home or don’t want to use a credit card to access what is essentially a FREE service? This policy of requiring a credit card is needlessly exclusionary and obnoxious. The city is using taxpayer money – all taxpayers, not just those who have credit cards – to enable US Internet to set up the network.
UPDATE 2 July 2010, 10:00 am: I asked Ken Carnesi of Anaptyx, who deployed the large free WiFi hotzone in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts about requiring people to log on using a credit card. Ken says they don’t require any kind of login to their WiFi network and adds that he has never heard of the credit card requirement.