The Error. MetroFi is not building the Minneapolis Wi-Fi network. US Internet Wireless is the city’s partner.
The Missing Details. “…just 1,000 users were on the municipal system the day the bridge collapsed. This was on a warm summer Friday in a city of 383,000 and thousands more commuters and visitors.” The network is still under construction and has only opened in a few neighborhoods so usage rates are just not relevant without further information. There were not 383,000 potential subscribers at the time of the bridge collapse.
Only portions of three neighborhoods were (un)wired on Aug. 1, the day the bridge fell. Total population (2000 census) of those neighborhoods is 22,869 but not all of them had access yet and even those that did had only been offered the service in July. In addition, the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood has a poverty level 25% higher than Minneapolis at large so it’s an ulikely source of customers right now. (The Wi-Fi network will provide some free access at parks and community centers in the area however.)
So what’s the potential subscriber base? Given the service was less than a month old, you could argue that 1,000 users on a warm summer Friday is pretty good.
What’s ironic is that the Minneapolis Broadband Initiative Business Case (p. 3 of Executive Summary) quotes the guy:
Indeed, let there be Wi-Fi! But let’s not pretend that idea of municipal ownership is seizing the nation. There’s every indication that municipal broadband projects– where cities attempt to own and operate their own competitive networks–are in retreat, and that private enterprise will build it and own broadband. And that’s the right way to go.