Minneapolis bidder offers cut-rate plans, more details: Two finalists remain in building a citywide fiber and wireless network: US Internet and EarthLink. The former proposes a $16/month rate for low-income residents; regular rates would still undercut current cable and DSL broadband pricing. (Until the incumbents offer 1-year, 60% rates as they have in other communities.)
The article notes Minneapolis will shift $1.5 to $2.5 million in telecom costs (voice and cellular) to the new network, while US Internet estimates $25 million in expense to build the hybrid network. EarthLink did not provide a number.
US Internet also plans to deploy what sounds like 4.9 GHz public safety wireless alongside regular Wi-Fi. EarthLink will use a VPN and a VLAN, although the article makes it sound like it's just a VPN. US Internet will use WiMax for backhaul; EarthLink will use Motorola Canopy, which ain't far from WiMax. (The article paraphrases an analyst, who says EarthLink "every third Wi-Fi hot spot would relay information back to the data center through a series of Wi-Fi interconnections." It's a paraphrase to be sure: it's not Wi-Fi at all, but unlicensed point-to-multipoint.)
The article ends with a local group's position that the city shouldn't bid out and contract out this network. The city's point person says words that should please every moderate, while probably inflaming pro- and anti-municipal advocates: "The city lacks the money, competence and ability to build and manage that kind of a network right now."