Muni Wi-Fi: Letter to the City Council

Email sent to members of the Minneapolis City Council. Meeting is at 9:30 a.m. (CST). I won’t be in attendance.


My name is Peter Fleck. I’m a Minneapolis resident and live in Ward 2.

I support the plan to provide a wireless mesh for Minneapolis. I think it will provide great benefits for education and for businesses.

I personally believe that public ownership would be the best way to go. I see the Internet as a public commons for sharing ideas and I am nervous in ceding that control over to a private enterprise. At the end of the day, Earthlink and US Internet must take care of their shareholders by making a profit. Nothing evil about that; it’s just the nature of the beast.

I know I’m late to this party and there could be a vote today (Friday). I’m not sure what sort of debate can continue after that vote but I would at least like to see Minneapolis get a deal equal or better than the Philadelphia deal. One key piece is the selling of bandwidth to other ISPs at a reasonable rate to promote competition.

I’ve included the latest update I could find on what’s going on in Philadelphia. This is from the Philadelphia Wireless site ( – latest update link at the bottom of the page).

I’ve also been writing about this issue on my blog.

[Link to blog but you’re already here]

Thank you.

Wireless Philadelphia WI-FI Project Update
December 2005

1) Wireless Philadelphia has selected EarthLink to build and manage a 135 square mile city wide wireless broadband network which will make high speed (1Mb upstream and downstream) Internet access available to residents, businesses and institutions throughout the entire City and County of Philadelphia.

2) Under Earthlink’s proposal, no city tax dollars will be used to fund the building of WiFi infrastructure.

3) Wireless Philadelphia is partnering with EarthLink in an unprecedented public / private partnership to provide wireless broadband access to enhance economic development in neighborhoods, help overcome the digital divide, and improve quality of life for all Philadelphians.

4) EarthLink will fund, build and manage the wireless network, and will provide Wireless Philadelphia with revenue sharing fees to help support the Wireless Philadelphia Non Profit Corporation and to help fund digital inclusion programs.

5) Wireless Philadelphia will promote digital inclusion by providing free training and computers up to 10,000 families; working with local nonprofits and faith-based organizations; and working with local banks to provide low or no cost computer loans.

6) Wireless Philadelphia and EarthLink have reached agreement on the major business terms of the project and are working to complete a definitive agreement by end of 2005.

7) A Street Light Pole Attachment Agreement will be introduced into City Council for review and approval the end of January 2006.

8) After City Council approval, EarthLink will begin the project by constructing a 15 square mile area proof of concept area in approximately March 2006. Upon completion of the testing in the proof of concept phase, EarthLink will begin deploying the remainder of the city with a target completion date about twelve months following a successful pilot.

9) It is intended that the Wi-Fi network will provide the following benefits to the community in Philadelphia:

– Inexpensive, high speed Internet Access
– Open Access for multiple, competing service providers
– Roaming capabilities available to providers of hotspot access
– Free access in some City parks and public spaces
– Daily / Weekly access for occasional users and visitors
– Small Business access and wireless T-1 alternative

10) Retail rates on the network are intended to be around $20.00 a month for access.

11) EarthLink will help Wireless Philadelphia promote digital inclusion, by offering certain qualifying Philadelphia residents discounted low cost access to the Internet, at prices around $10 per month.

12) Open Access means that wholesale broadband access will be available at reasonable rates to qualified ISP’s, allowing them to sell and deliver their own wireless broadband products, and providing more choices for residents and businesses.

13) Occasional use access will be available to any visitor to the City for a competitive daily and weekly rate.

14) EarthLink will offer business products using the network, like T-1 replacement, at competitive rates allowing small business access that in many cases is too expensive today.

15) This partnership expands the City of Philadelphia’s leadership position of using wireless technology to meet the needs of its residents and enhancing Philadelphia’s progressive visitor, tourism and business climate.


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