Digital Inclusion in Minneapolis

Wireless Minneapolis history

Beginning in 2004, a team of City technology experts worked with tech-savvy representatives from business, education, nonprofits, and the community in general to examine how other cities are approaching wireless issues and to determine Minneapolis City government’s business needs, costs, funding options, trends and technology. Through that process and stakeholder input, the City determined that a public-private partnership was the most cost-effective and serviceable approach.

The City began an extensive RFP process and evaluated the proposals submitted with input from community, business and resident stakeholders and government partners. More than 90 vendors expressed interest, 20 vendors registered for prime contractor status, and nine vendors submitted proposals. Through that process two vendors were identified as finalists. US Internet was selected as the final vendor after a testing period where each vendor’s construction approach and service delivery was evaluated.

The City of Minneapolis signed a 10-year contract with USI Wireless of Minnetonka to provide Minneapolis with cutting-edge broadband technology and become one of the first large cities in the United States to go wireless. USI Wireless funded, built, and manages the wireless network covering all 59 square miles of Minneapolis, providing residents, businesses, and visitors with wireless broadband access anywhere in the City. The wireless contract also includes a comprehensive set of community benefits that goes far beyond what any other city in the country has negotiated.

The City allows USI Wireless to use its light poles, traffic signals, and facilities to mount wireless network equipment throughout the City’s 59 square miles. USI Wireless is paying a fee to use City assets. The City committed to $1.25 million dollars in annual usage of wireless services as an anchor tenant of the network. The monthly cost of broadband access associated with this network represented a savings over the City’s current Internet costs as well as a cost effective option for increased connectivity for the City’s mobile workforce and public safety initiatives.

The wireless network was completed in summer 2008, with the exception of a few challenge areas which were completed by the end of 2009. Approximately 3,000 wireless devices were installed throughout the City on light poles, traffic signals, and buildings to complete the network.

The Wireless Minneapolis contract calls for "network neutrality." USI Wireless offers wholesale pricing to ISPs and other competitive Internet service providers and hot spot locations throughout the City.  

Here are archived reports and other materials developed during this process.

Wireless Minneapolis Business Case (pdf)

Staff request (pdf) for City Council action to approve US Internet as the Wireless Minneapolis vendor

Term sheet (pdf) with US Internet


Last updated Dec 27, 2017



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