Category Archives: politics

Minneapolis Unwired: Dead zones & IOUs (plus a Wi-Fi in the parks update)

Steve Alexander has a report on the Minneapolis Wi-Fi deployment at the Star Tribune. Judging from the dates on the comments, I think it’s from May 26 but there’s no dateline on the story.

The gist is that it’s not done which is also the ongoing mantra. “It’s always something” as Gilda would say. Prospect Park is still a “challenge” area and there are others around the metro–a total of three square miles still unwired. The park issue I reported on before seems to be resolved and a contract is in place with a bit of money changing hands from US Internet to the Park Board. (Read details over at the eDemocracy Forum).

The City of Minneapolis is using only $50,000 worth of services but paying $1.25 million per year. The article says the money carries over (an IOU so to speak) so supposedly we will get full value eventually. Some reasons we aren’t getting full value now are because the network needs to actually be complete before Police and Fire will mess with it and because some City departments are slow in adopting the service.

Alexander talks about using the network to track video from a police car going 80mph. I would love to know how that is possible. I don’t think the current network, in areas where it is fully implemented, allows you to smoothly travel from node to node in a car without losing the connection some of the time. So do we have a “special” high-speed backend network for police and fire? I know there is a “public safety” channel or something but if it’s still in the Wi-Fi range, it would be subject to all kinds of interference.

US Internet meanwhile says they now have 14,000 subscribers. Those numbers should eventually translate to cash infusions in the City’s Digital Inclusion Fund with a minimum of 5% of net pretax income. The fund has $100,000 left of the initial $500,000 from US Internet. The fund and the money are part of the Community Benefits Agreement in the contract. I’m on the Digital Inclusion Fund Committee and so far we have not heard when we will receive more money and we have postponed this years grant-making cycle.

We are still the muni-wi-fi poster child of the world. It’s working here because the City of Minneapolis signed on as anchor tenant and is paying a hefty fee to support a network. However, unless the City starts to get its money’s worth of services soon, we may have rethink this poster child status.


An incinerator by any other name…

Update: Excellent coverage of the meeting at TC Daily Planet (by Dan Gordon).

Update: MPR has a story. Published before the meeting took place last night. If you went to the meeting, please comment!

There is a burner/incinerator/biomass convertor coming to my neighborhood (really close anyway).

The City of Minneapolis has tentatively agreed to sell land at 2850 20th Avenue South — the former location of the South Transfer Station — to a private, for-profit enterprise that plans to build an incinerator to generate electrical power and steam heat.
Midtown Minneapolis Incinerator Information: Midtown Incinerator Information

Here is what Dan Cooke has to say about Biomass Convertors:

Burners are 19th Century technology. There is nothing particularly new or novel about a “biomass” burner — it’s still an incincerator and to the extent it burns materials that release toxins it will make us sick. The State of Delaware, in recognition of these problems, has enacted a statewide ban on incinerator construction within THREE MILES of any residence, church, hospital or school. If you live in the area bounded by Harriet and Calhoun, the airport, the St. Paul border and downtown Mpls, you are well-within this radius. Midtown EcoEnergy Project: Seward Neighbors Forum: E-Democracy.Org Forums

(Read the rest of Dan’s post at the forum link where he mentions conflict of interest issues between CouncilMember Lisa Goodman and Michael Krause, a key figure at Kandiyohi, the group proposing the project.)

There is a public meeting hosted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on Dec. 13 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 2730 E. 31st St., 6–8:30 p.m. MPCA will give information about and receive public comment on a draft air permit for Kandiyohi Development’s proposed Midtown Eco Energy MEE) project.

More info at Twin Cities Daily Planet

Official Midtown Eco Energy site

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Music censor of the day: AT&T

Update: David Isenberg talks about AT&T and censorship.

AT&T says that it was simply a mistake that their content monitor cut a bit from Pearl Jam’s performance of “Daughter” during the Lollapalooza webcast last Sunday. The fact that the lines discussed George Bush had nothing to do with it:

George Bush, leave this world alone.

George Bush find yourself another home.

In the world of Bush criticism, this is tame. No obscenities, for example. But AT&T, (in a fit of patriotism?) decided it was too much for the audience. And not even their audience. They are protecting all citizens that might want to listen to the webcast whether AT&T customers or not.

Read Pearl Jam’s take on it.

There’s a spectrum auction around the bend and maybe we’ll get lucky

The FCC will be auctioning off old TV spectrum in 2008 and they are hard at work today creating a set of rules for the auction. Past spectrum auctions are dominated by really big companies with lots of money (and lobbyists) and this auction will be no different except there’s a new kid on the block named Google. And Google thinks the FCC should require openness:

  1. Open applications: consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
  2. Open devices: consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;
  3. Open services: third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and
  4. Open networks: third parties (like internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at a technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee’s wireless network.

Read the full post at the Google Policy Blog.

Yesterday the FCC voted to require 1 and 2. Sad not to have 3 which would have really opened up the spectrum but any openness is welcome. Of course, enforcement of the openness will be another issue.

Washington Post has a good article about the whole situation, Susan Crawford reports on the decision, and Paul Kapustka at GigaOm has a good summary of what happened yesterday.

Given that AT&T is happy about the decision (see the Kapustka link), it may be (as Susan Crawford feels) unenforceable.