First up is Brandt William’s report at MPR which gives a good overview of the Minneapolis network and some background on other deployments around the country—most of which are not faring well. I get interviewed in Williams piece which ran on Wednesday, March 26. (Just noticed that he didn’t mention my blog although he called me a tech blogger.)
MPR is in St. Paul and by coincidence the next two local reports originate at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. First
Leslie Brooks Suzukamo talks about the leaves of spring and their effect on Wi-Fi signals. Wireless vendor USIW thinks they’ve learned enough about the trees to ensure good reception. Lots of details are in this report including information about the BelAir nodes that are the hardware heart of the system.
Also from the Pioneer Press, Julio Ojeda-Zapata crosses the river to test the network armed with a laptop and iTouch. He experienced a couple of problems but overall he thought the network was satisfactory.
The number of USIW subscribers is not clear from the articles. I’ve seen figures ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 and I think pre-registrations are sometimes mixed in with true subscriber figures. Suzukamo quotes USIW head Joe Caldwell predicting 10,000 subscribers next month. I have another report that originated with Minneapolis wireless consultant Jim Fartad that there are currently 7,500 subscribers.
Challenge areas where there is no service are still a problem. USIW may have to install poles to get the job done there.
According to Farstad, 85% of the customers are using the Ruckus device for connecting. Some customers also need external antennas but the number is less than 50. Overal customer satisfaction is 90%. I would like to know how they are determing that figure as the buzz on the local internet tends to be negative.
Steve Alexander at the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on the new Wi-Fi network coming to the University of Minnesota.