Minneapolis citizens who complained about Wi-Fi service starting to come around: Interesting article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Steve Alexander, who has closely followed his city's deployment of Wi-Fi by US Internet. In Minneapolis, Qwest and Comcast charge more for less, which isn't always the case. In many cities with Wi-Fi networks being built and duopoly broadband service, service providers have 1-year incentive plans and other ways to get their wired prices down. Alexander doesn't compare upload speeds, but Wi-Fi networks tend to have disproportionately higher upstream rates than broadband services even when the broadband download rate is higher.
US Internet apparently did its research and planning well, starting late enough to learn from others' problems. Alexander reports that the company says its six weeks behind schedule (partly due to a three-week shift of effort to help with recovery from the bridge collapse) and has increased its budget 20 percent (from $20m to $24m). The company moved from 30 to 45 nodes per square mile, and putting higher-gain antennas on most nodes.
They'll also provide an option for potential customers who can't receive a signal to have an external antenna mounted at a rate not yet set--this is unique to my knowledge. City-wide networks were predicated on the notion that customers would all self-install Wi-Fi receivers, if those were needed.
The city is happy with the project, too, which is on track for completion this year. Early radio rollouts were problematic because of interference with and from business Wi-Fi networks; that's less of a problem in residential neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, in nearby St. Louis Park, a city-built network is running behind: I've been writing about St. Louis Park for some time, because it was among the handful of cities that decided to have a network built for them that would be municipally owned and operated. Private firms are handling build-out and operation on behalf of the city. This Star Tribune article notes that the network is two months behind schedule which has produced a $150,000 shortfall, but 4,000 customers waiting for service and $25,000 a year to conserve in public safety budgets. Their goal is 6,500 subscribers in the first year.
One resident is rather vocal about the "unsightly towers"--solar-powered nodes that punch through the city's leafy canopy--but it turns out that he's also a Comcast spokesman which, he says, "doesn't affect his view." I can see that. The pictures of the towers were pretty imposing; they were redesigned to be less unsightly, but there are hundreds of them, and I can see residents concerns. Eventually, they'll just stop noticing them.