Digital Inclusion in Minneapolis

Wireless Minneapolis Frequently Asked Questions

What is Wireless Minneapolis?
When will the wireless network be completed?

What about indoor coverage?

How will Wireless Minneapolis improve City services?

How will Wireless Minneapolis benefit the community?

What does a wireless Minneapolis mean for the region?

What does a Wireless Minneapolis mean to city residents and businesses?

What does a Wireless Minneapolis mean for my neighborhood?

What are the details of the contract with USIWireless?

Can customers choose their own service provider rather than USIWireless?

How do I subscribe to Wireless Minneapolis and get other service-oriented questions answered?

Why did Minneapolis approve a public-private business model?

How can I stay informed about Wireless Minneapolis?

What is Wireless Minneapolis?

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. This wireless network allows the City to serve its citizens more effectively and efficiently, and it brings a new level of convenience and connectedness to the people who live, work and play in Minneapolis.

USI Wireless will fund, build, and manage a 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.

When will the wireless network be completed?

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

Here is the coverage map , which shows that the project network has been completed. USI Wireless began offering service in each area of the city as construction was completed in that area.

How does the Wireless network signal get "indoors"?

USI Wireless will provide ubiquitous outdoor wireless broadband coverage, with the expectation that at least 90 percent of the multi-family and high rise resident units will be able to receive wireless signals at speeds of one to three megabits per second.

Many commercial and residential customers may find they will need to purchase or lease additional equipment so that the wireless radio will be able to "see" the computer in the building. Signal strength from your computer to the radio is highly variable and will depend on the computer, where the computer is located within the building construction.

USI Wireless is able to get a wireless signal into high rise units, however to do so, the building owner must contact USI Wireless at 952-253-3262.

How will Wireless Minneapolis improve City services?

A wireless network that covers the entire city of Minneapolis will allow the City to deliver services to its residents and businesses more effectively and efficiently than ever before. Firefighters can access building floor plans on the way to a fire, and inspectors will be able to file reports and access data in the field.

Wireless has immense public safety potential. Squad car video can be beamed to police precincts in real-time. Officers on the way to a scene can view security camera video of a crime scene as they approach. Wireless technology will make connecting and coordinating security cameras more cost-efficient and easier than ever. Shot-spotter and other safety systems can be operated on the wireless network.

How will Wireless Minneapolis benefit the community?

As part of the Wireless Minneapolis contract, USI Wireless is providing a comprehensive set of benefits to the community that go far beyond what any other city in the country has negotiated. Highlights include:
 

What does a wireless Minneapolis mean for the region?

This network will make Minneapolis one of the first cities in the country with this advanced, seamless wireless coverage. Wireless Minneapolis will make Minneapolis – and the entire region – a more attractive location for new businesses, residents, students, conventions and visitors.

What does a Wireless Minneapolis mean to city residents and businesses?

Residents and businesses will be able to sign up for wireless accounts with USIWireless, which is funding, building, and managing the network. A wireless account will allow users to access the Internet on their wireless-ready devices anywhere in the City, even as they move around!

The contract calls for residential service at $19.95 per month, and that rate is guaranteed for 10 years, and business customers will be able to sign up for wireless accounts at $29.95 per month.

What does a Wireless Minneapolis mean for my neighborhood?

Wireless will connect communities in Minneapolis in new ways. Individual neighborhoods will have the ability to provide local content tailored for their community. This gives neighbors a powerful tool to stay informed and connected, and offers small businesses new avenues to reach and interact with their customers.

What are the details of the contract with USIWireless?

The City and USI Wireless have entered into a 10-year contract, in which the City is an anchor tenant of a citywide wireless network that is also available to residents, business, and visitors. 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 has 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 represents 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 electronic systems.

USI Wireless will provide ubiquitous outdoor municipal, commercial, residential and roaming wireless broadband coverage and 90 percent indoor coverage for multi-family and high rise residential units at speeds of one to three megabits per second.

Can customers choose their own service provider rather than USIWireless?

The Wireless Minneapolis contract calls for "network neutrality." USIWireless will offer wholesale pricing to ISPs and other competitive Internet service providers and hot spot locations throughout the City within 90 days of network completion.

Questions about USIWireless’s Wireless services?

USI Wireless is the company that is building and will own the "Wireless Minneapolis" network. Minneapolis City government is signed up as an anchor customer for this wireless network service.

Contact USI Wireless to subscribe to the wireless service. You can reach USI Wireless at 952-253-3262 or by using their website.

Why did Minneapolis approve a public-private business model?

The public-private partnership spelled out in the business model means that the private partner will build, own and operate a reliable, flexible and open wireless broadband network that uses and builds upon the City’s existing fiber optic network assets. Essentially the City will own the fiber and serve as an anchor tenant for network services. The City will allow the private partner to use City buildings, poles and other assets to mount wireless equipment. The private partner will fund, build and operate the wholesale and retail wireless network.

Cost is the key reason for taking this approach. A private vendor can construct and manage the network and meet City government’s requirements without using tax dollars. It is estimated that the cost to construct the network and fund the initial start-up phase will be about $20 million, with the expectation that the technology lifecycle will require significant and expensive upgrades every three to five years.

But cost is not the only factor. Several major cities initially sought public ownership and many are now locked in costly and time consuming litigation with private vendors that are arguing government should not compete with private industry.

How can I stay informed about Wireless Minneapolis?

You can sign up to receive e-mail updates on Wireless Minneapolis as the project moves forward. To sign up, log on to: Wireless Minneapolis.

Last updated Oct. 5, 2011