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Minneapolis To Go Wireless

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the wise-neighbors-to-the-north dept.

Wireless Networking 212

an_mo writes " According to a Minneapolis Star Tribune article, Wednesday will see the announcement of a request for bids on a citywide wireless access service The city will unveil a request for a proposal for a privately owned, $15 million to $20 million citywide wireless and fiber-optic network to improve government communications by linking every city building, police car and housing inspector. The network would also would be available to every individual in the city for $18 to $24 a month."

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why? (0, Redundant)

vidiot4 (826262) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212044)

why is this not implimented everywhere?

Re:why? (4, Insightful)

Loco3KGT (141999) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212066)

Because, surprise, it takes time and money to do things.

Kudos to the government for charging monthly for access. Charge the people that use it instead of taxing everyone for a handful of geeks to use it.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212206)

I'm surprised, I wish more governments would go this way. It'd silence the "why should I pay for wireless I won't use" critics while actually providing a service that Capitalism failed to produce.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212256)

Come on - do any of you actually believe the taxpayers won't end up paying for (at least part of) this anyway?

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212885)

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Ummm... mirror, anyone?

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212732)

If capitalism "fails to produce" something, that is usually an indicator that there is inadequite demand.

Most people don't even own wireless cards, let alone have an interest in buying their Internet connection from a city contractor through one.

Re:why? (4, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212230)

FTA: No tax money would be used for the Minneapolis wireless network, which would be paid for, built, owned and operated by the winning bidder on the city's proposal. That is a markedly different approach than in Philadelphia, where the city will own and operate a new Wi-Fi network.

From You:
Kudos to the government for charging monthly for access. Charge the people that use it instead of taxing everyone for a handful of geeks to use it.

The one reason I am not against this implementation. Had they made it free, I would have been pissed. One thing I am concerned about though, how is this network (if it is using standard 802.11 a/b/g equipment), going to be affected by personal wirless hubs/routers? That should degrade/jam performance. They also are talking about replacing police radios (if I understood that correctly) with VoIP radios on this network. Wouldn't that be open to jamming (as in even more so than cellphones) and interference from other WAPs? Or are they going to ban the use of all non-city WAPs?

Re:why? (2, Interesting)

CharlieHedlin (102121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212377)

I agree that they are looking for problems in this regard, however it should idealy only degrade performance. Unfortunately the real world experience proves otherwise.

The city doesn't have the authority to regulate the ISM bands, so there is not telling where this could go.

Not to mention that HAM operators have precedence and very few restrictions in channel 1.

Re:why? (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212381)

I interpreted the article to mean that police would use the new network for data transfers. I didn't see anything about replacing radios with VOIP.

Re:why? (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212678)

The citywide wireless network is necessary to improve government communications by linking every city building, police car and housing inspector to the city's databases, city officials say.

I read this as thinking radios and such. Even if it is only data transfers, I can see them moving the license plate checks (when someone gets pulled over, the cops generally run the plates) onto this thing. I get the fealing that some other stuff might as well. Same problems still apply. Sorry on the VoIP, I missread that.

Re:why? (-1, Troll)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212318)

Because like anything else the government does, they'll do a half-assed job of it.

I'd love to be able to pay for private garbage pickup. Then maybe they won't leave a big pile of trash on my front lawn because one of the morons split open a kitchen bag, and then tell me it's "not their job" to clean stuff like that up. Or leave a big pile of wet cardboard on the road during recycle day because it wasn't folded "just so", or leave my trash cans in the MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMNED STREET EVERY TIME. Who do I have to complain to? I guess I could move to another city.

Anyways, back on topic, the government will provide a half-assed service, but it will be very cheap. Since most people buy on price, not quality, it will drive out private broadband carriers. People will be left with only one choice. It happened in Altoona, PA, it's happening in Tempe, AZ..

This is the reason why Texas and other states are trying to bar local governments from doing stuff like this.

I'm all for cheap or even free access to WiFi, I just don't think the government should be involved in it whatsoever.

Shouldn't be all that expensive... (3, Funny)

aicrules (819392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212049)

That area is so flat one high gain antenna on top of a flag pole should be able to service everyone.

Re:Shouldn't be all that expensive... (1)

jthayden (811997) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212138)

The higher the gain of the antenna, the smaller the arc of coverage is going to be. What you really need is one powerful omnidirectional antenna on top of a flag pole. You're going to have trouble finding someone to service it in the middle of winter though.

Re:Shouldn't be all that expensive... (3, Informative)

CharlieHedlin (102121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212275)

Uh, a powerfull omni is high gain, it just has a very flat coverage pattern. Since you need to recieve signals, a powerfull transmitter won't do, you need a high gain antenna.

All antenna gain comes from restricting the pattern. In your typical high gain directional antenna you have a conical pattern of anywhere from 3-45 degrees. There are 18dbi gain omni antennas, typically co-linear arrays. They will have a very flat pattern (typically 3 degrees vertically), but cover 360 degrees horizontally. The problem is that if it is on top of a flag pole you won't have any coverage below it, but that could be solved by using a standard antenna on a different channel closer to ground level.

Re:Shouldn't be all that expensive... (2, Informative)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212313)

I sugest you look at how they design TV tower antennas (assuming you aren't a broadcast engineer). They use multiple high gain patch pannel antenas to transmit in their coverage area. This also cuts down on the ammount of electricity they use as they do not broadcast up out of the atmosphere and only down to earth in their reception area.

Re:Shouldn't be all that expensive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212569)

so do what the cell companies do. tilt them down.

Duh, what is this RF 101?

I hope that the people doing this are more edumacated than the rest of you here are...

and high gain is not needed if you dont lose all your power in the RF feedline. it's better to do multiple repeaters than it is to do a single massive xmitter that will get it's signal sucked up by every water based thing in it's way... trees LOVE 802.11

Anyone Wardriving this area? (2, Informative)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212329)

Anyone wardriving this area? I'll post a link to an image if someone uploads their wardriving discoveries [wifimaps.com] .

Re:Shouldn't be all that expensive... (1)

max born (739948) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212338)

There's an FCC power restriction of about 20mW per channel for 802.11.

You can crank up the power but you have to pay off the FCC first, see auctions [fcc.gov] .

To me the selling off of public airways to the highest bidder amounts to a totally corrupt system where cell phone providers, as one example, have to give the FCC millions and then stick it to the consumer in what is basically a tax on the electromagnetic spectrum.

Re:Shouldn't be all that expensive... (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212507)

You can't crank up the power. It has to be able to receive, also.

Unless you're going to provide super-powered transmitters to everyone.

Re:Shouldn't be all that expensive... (1)

panaceaa (205396) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212349)

It's really not that flat in Minneapolis / St. Paul. The Mississippi river flows through there which and seems to have caused the noticable changes in elevation. There are thousands of lakes, which logically need some hills around them in order to hold their water. All in all there's probably only 100 ft. of elevation change throughout the area, but it's not like Fargo or other cities further west in the plains.

Re:Shouldn't be all that expensive... (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212486)

Dude. 100 feet of elevation change is what most of the country calls "flat."

I'm from here, but I have no delusions of our hills impressing anybody.

Re:Shouldn't be all that expensive... (1)

aicrules (819392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212665)

Don't worry about the relative ground level of your state/area. I've seen that guy post before and he's just bitter about his own flat life so he takes it out on other people.

More true than you know. (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212446)

We tend to put almost all of our antennae on top of the IDS tower, the tallest skyscraper in Minneapolis.

In fact, over a dozen other towers have gone up in downtown Minnepolis over the last 20 years, all built to be a tiny bit shorter than the IDS, so they wouldn't have to put all the antennae on the newer structure.

We also have a few broadcast towers over by the airport.

TV reception around here is terrific.

Steering back on topic:

It's kind of cool, but there's a local coffee shop chain around here (Dunn Bros. Coffee) which offers free wi-fi already, as do many of the "mom & pop" coffee shops around the city. I was recently playing World of Warcraft in the Dunn Bros. in Richfield (just south of Minneapolis) on my iBook, and found the connection to be solid and fast.

If I lived in Minneaplolis (or if they extended this out to the 'burbs), I would consider using this service, but I'm pretty darn happy with my DSL service from iphouse.com, so I probably would just stick with what I've got anyway.

Re:Shouldn't be all that expensive... (2, Informative)

MadHakish (675408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212858)

This is just not the case.. We are in a river valley *ahem* the Mississippi *ahem* with lots of ups and downs just subtle enough to cause all sorts of problems for wireless providers.
I've done long range wireless links in Minneapolis and St. Paul for years and I know personally it's just not that easy, I also know some of the wireless guys who worked for MCI when they had (maybe still have) antennas on top of the IDS tower -(Minneapolis's arguably tallest building next to Wells Fargo Tower (the mast on IDS makes it taller))- they had a LOT of problems with signal degredation, dropouts and packet loss not to mention just plain dead spots.
Most if not all of downtown, and it's surroundings are surrounded by trees and a lot of times the homes and buildings they surround are limited by city codes as to how tall a mast or tower they could legally build limiting the penetration of wifi to the taller objects in a given region.
Although it's not difficult to find a good spot and a clear line of sight, there will be some obstacles - just tossing a big antenna on the nearest tall building will only get you so far.
You need massive penetration.
Water towers, freeway light poles, and the rooftops of high-rise apartment buildings will all be required POPs and give the best lines of site while providing the necessary hookups and accessibility an infrastructure like this would require.

Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (5, Insightful)

byteCoder (205266) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212054)

As a resident of a suburb just outside of Minneapolis (Eden Prairie), I'm somewhat torn about this:

On the positive side, this influx of competition in the broadband arena is good for me as a consumer, currently tithing about $45/month to Time-Warner Cable (which serves Minneapolis and the SW 'burbs). More competition in the broadband arena is a very good thing--especially when it shakes up entrenched local monopolies (Qwest DSL and Time-Warner Cable). Also, as a Hennepin County (which contains Minneapolis and my suburb) taxpayer, technologies that can streamline government operations (and either provide better services and/or lower taxes) is another good thing.

However, on the negative side, I'm nervous about governments getting into the broadband business--the potential for intrusion and abuse of the citizen's rights to privacy is certainly increased. The fact that this deployment is run by a private company helps a little--but it still concerns me, since the government is providing the funding for it.

Technology itself is neutral and can be used for both good and evil purposes. Perhaps, what I'd like to see would be a citizen's oversight group that can provide the checks on government abuse of the network.

Another smaller suburb to my southwest (Chaska [chaska.net] ) has their own municipal deployment, which apparently is working out pretty well.

As long as municipal broadband doesn't block other entities from providing broadband service to a community and foster competition, municipal broadband could be a very good thing. But, I'm still concerned about potential abuse of the network by the local governments.

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (1)

aicrules (819392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212112)

What are you worried about? They have access to other utilities such as electric and you don't see them snooping in on your hairdrier usage.

They could also snoop around your sewer usage as well, which for me would be a lot more embarassing than snooping my broadband connection!

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212337)

"...you don't see them snooping in on your hairdrier usage."

Well, that's the definition of snooping, isn't it? You're not supposed to see them doing it!

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (1)

manifoldronin (827401) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212452)

Yea, but nobody can tell your hairdrier usage by reading through the current running through your house, right?

I agree with your sewer usage point - although only to the extent that I would only feel embarassed if I actually see somebody setting up a station right outside my door and picking through my "embarassment" before it flows into the street sewer and becomes anybody's embarassment. ;-)

Boy, do I wish my packets would stop carrying my IP as soon as it goes out of my cable modem...

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (4, Funny)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212117)

I'm nervous about governments getting into the broadband business--the potential for intrusion and abuse of the citizen's rights to privacy is certainly increased. The fact that this deployment is run by a private company helps a little--but it still concerns me, since the government is providing the funding for it.

Quit your whining. $24 and a set of 12 always-on govenrment monitored webcams in your house is small price to pay for broadband.

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (1, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212167)

As long as municipal broadband doesn't block other entities from providing broadband service to a community and foster competition, municipal broadband could be a very good thing. But, I'm still concerned about potential abuse of the network by the local governments.

I'm not concerned about it right now but I will begin to be curious once enough people switch over. With any municipality there is some financial ins and a lot of political ins.

Will Hennepin County/Minneapolis make the right QoS choice when picking the company that will supply the backend support for the wireless network (i.e. Visi) or will they choose some third rate company that no one has ever heard of but has political ties due to family?

Will they start enforcing site and port blocking when enough people start complaining that the network is too slow for what they are paying?

Right now I am not afraid of them poking their noses in to what the users are doing but that *will* become a problem in the future.

All these good things but yet we have to worry so much :(

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (4, Insightful)

CharlieHedlin (102121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212196)

Many of my posts have been opposed to municipal wireless, but this Mineapolis project seems a little different.

The city is proposing a private city wide network. Sure they will be using City provided facilities, but so does every phone and cable carrier (the right of way for the cables).

The private carrier will also be allowed to sell their services to end users. It basically sounds like the government has invited the private industry to bid on the opertunity to setup the network, with the city as their largest customer.

There is far less chance for the government to censor the network in this arangement. Sure, as the carriers largest customer the city will carry weight, but they already carry weight with the franchises offered to cable and phone carriers.

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (3, Informative)

SuperQ (431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212750)

I attended a meeting with the people in charge of this project.

The proposed RFP will be for "shared governance" where the city will have a say in how the network is run, but the service provider (qwest/comcast/timewarner _could_ in theory bid for this) will do all the build out.

They will also provide city backed loans to help with the finantial burden. basicaly better financing terms, because the city is behind them.

The city will pay a certin ammount to have priority access to the network for use with police/fire/municipal departments.

It's a well thought out system, but is potentialy handing another monopoly over a big company. It is un-certin how badly they will step on local hotspots, educational institution wireless, and projects like the Twin Cities Wireless User Group.

(we have a hotspot network covering a large park near downtown)

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (2, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212207)

The horns of the dilemma: You get government wireless access and they spy on your activities or you get private wireless access and they spy on you for information they can sell.

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (2, Insightful)

teaDrunk (849107) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212225)

Do the public, who ends up paying for all this later, get a chance to weigh such pros & cons ? There seems to be a rush of metros these days setting up such networks.
I would not mind the facility but still .... who controls it...big brother? abuse, intrusion ...Not comfortable with it at all.

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212269)

currently tithing about $45/month to Time-Warner Cable

Tithe actually means 1/10th (tenth) So if $45 is 1/10th your monthly income, I sincerely urge you to re-examine your priorities. However, if this was just a mixup and you used the wrong word, save tithe for things that really are 1/10th

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (3, Insightful)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212445)

I'm nervous about governments getting into the broadband business--the potential for intrusion and abuse of the citizen's rights to privacy is certainly increased. The fact that this deployment is run by a private company helps a little--but it still concerns me, since the government is providing the funding for it.

Just wait a few years when the religious zealots in town decide that "their" tax money isn't going to go to pr0n and that there should be filters in place. Hasn't this been the argument when it comes to filtering any other publicly funded access?

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212489)

This isn't competition, this is elimination.

Do you really think Comcast, Verizon et al are going to stick around, or do anything to improve service? They'll never be able to compete against taxpayer-subsidized services on price, and not enough people buy based on quality.

Government run initiatives like this will provide short term good, but long term bad.

Frankly, I think Texas has the right idea by banning this, even though that view is unpopular with slashbots who want their free stuff now.

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (2, Insightful)

foston (866067) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212749)

perhaps not, perhaps so. If they add value to their service, pehaps some will stay. BUT: They are LAZY. They dont try to compete, because competition hurts the bottom line. They take their comfortable chunks of territory and make predictable $ off that territory. Maybe a small border skirmish here of there, but for the most part they could care less. Thats where muni shakes it up. Muni's basic premise is that Internet access is a utility. Which I agree. All people should have access to this very basic service. But the big ISP's dont care about all that hippie stuff. They want as much as they can make in their territory. That is why it costs $40-60 a month here in duluth: we are a a small market, and therefore we pay more to the monopolies. They raise the rates at any time, and you pay. and pay. and pay. and pay. MUNI. Foston

Re:Pros and Cons of Municipal Broadband... (2, Interesting)

foston (866067) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212812)

can we really expect privacy on the internet?

Essentially government is intruding on our privacy to combat terrorism at every turn they can. they want your information and are attempting every legislative effort to get it.

Whether or not your line is municipal is a moot point. they can get your info if they want it by enforcing gag rules on laws, such as a ISP being forced to divulge your information AND not being able to telll the target of the "ivestigation"

Given that assumption, I think MUNI is a great idea. It has become a commodity and an essential service. Everyone should have it, or have access to get this basic information utility.

Foston

Wireless seems to be the "in" thing. (4, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212076)

I'm impressed that so many cities seem to get the idea of blanketing the metro area with wireless, but it also concerns me because the technology changes so quickly. Telephone and cable took decades to pervade the nation, and the technology progressed at a relatively slow rate compare to the proliferation of wireless 801.xxx standards that flood the market year after year.

Spending $20 Million to install wireless is great, but it'll reflect poorly if the system isn't completely overhauled every few years.

Re:Wireless seems to be the "in" thing. (3, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212123)

But this is the attraction of wireless, it requires far less infrastructure than previous networking technology so its cheaper and easier to implement and will be easier to replace.

Re:Wireless seems to be the "in" thing. (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212129)

The key thing about wireless is that it doesn't require anything like the investment in infrastructure that cable-bound telecoms do. Fewer streets dug up means it's both quicker and cheaper to set up; no reason for it to not spread like wildfire...

Re:Wireless seems to be the "in" thing. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212401)

But fiber is faster. What people do not seem to get is that you do not have to "Dig" up streets to put in fiber. You can run fiber on poles just like phone, power, and catv. Where they are moving to under ground utilities they should be laying fiber since they have the place dug up.
I am all for WiFi but fiber is how you get REAL high speed to people.

Re:Wireless seems to be the "in" thing. (2, Insightful)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212142)

WiFi started with 801.11b 801.11a isn't WiFi. 801.11g is WiFi and backwards compatable with "b" There is work for a new WiFi standard 801.11n which will be backwards compatable with "b" and "g" devices. As long as IEEE sticks with WiFi compatability (and considering the huge infrastucture already inplace for WiFi networks, they will), then backwards compatability will be along for a very, very long time.
Will a city with 801.11g WiFi be considered inferior to a city with 801.11n WiFi? I don't think so.

inferior? probably. (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212398)

They'll both be better than no WiFi, but even people who don't need the extra speed will consider the newer/faster one better. I already hear people complain at universities and airports that only have b rather than geven people who don't need the speed or know what an 801.11 is notice in their connection properties that the speed it's connected at is lower than they're used to seeing.

Re:Wireless seems to be the "in" thing. (2, Interesting)

natrius (642724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212293)

I'm impressed that so many cities seem to get the idea of blanketing the metro area with wireless, but it also concerns me because the technology changes so quickly.

If Cringely [pbs.org] is to be trusted, all these cities are making a huge mistake. 802.11g absolutely sucks for what these cities are trying to do. When WiMax starts being deployed, the citizens of these WiFi cities are going to be mighty angry that these companies are providing a service that is far better than what their legislators are pushing through. In addition, they're polluting the 2.4 GHz spectrum for people who want their own WiFi networks. It's just a bad idea, and there are better solutions in the pipeline.

Re:Wireless seems to be the "in" thing. (3, Interesting)

Golias (176380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212645)

I don't know is Cringely is ever to be "trusted", but I happen to think he's 100% correct in this case.

Out in Bloomington (a Minneapolis suburb), I've already got 2.4 GHz noise fouling things up to the point that my 802.11g hub has to be located almost dead-center in the middle of my house to reach every room. I would hate to think what would happen if the city started spraying competing signals all over town.

Fortunately, it doesn't look (yet) like Bloomington is jumping on the bandwagon with Minneapolis. As part of the same county, we often get sucked into their bad ideas (such as building a new ball park for the Twins), but hopefully we will stay out of this fiasco.

As I said in another part of this thread, I don't think I would buy this service even if it was available to me, as the DSL connection I have now is well worth the higher price.

Re:Wireless seems to be the "in" thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212621)

why?? old 802.11b is perfectly useable for broadband.

anyone thinking they need higher than that is a complete fool. you dont get that speed out of your cablemodem...

wierdows that think they have to upgrade every 5 minues are what reflect poorly....

That's awesome (1)

tim256 (855256) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212085)

I'm surprised there's not some government regulation against government competing against business for the betterment of everyone that's stopping this.

Re:That's awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212235)

US Postal Service is a classic counterexample of your concern, so too Amtrack subsidies. The government often "competes" against private sector providers, and often sets up the laws of land to encourage their own business. The greater good is theoretically served.

I'm sorry sir, breathing the oxygen is extra. (2, Interesting)

Leontes (653331) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212097)

I look forward to the time in the not so distant future where wireless internet access is considered an inherent right. Even now, driving around Boston with macstumbler, I can find dozens of open non-WEP protected networks ripe for the taking and so I delude myself these unprotected networks are a purposeful open sharing of bandwidth. Am I the only one who finds the idea of forcing your citizens to pay to join such a network to be a little silly? I guess I think this sort of thing should be a public right rather than an extra cost. Mind you, let's reform healthcare and education first, and give them the kind of money they need, but you know, after taking care of the more essential essentials, free wireless and fiber-optic networks for everyone!

Re:I'm sorry sir, breathing the oxygen is extra. (2, Insightful)

dekemoose (699264) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212192)

Quite possibly the most asinine comment I've seen in quite awhile. For god sakes take a moment to touch down in the real world. There is no inalienable right to wi-fi Internet access, or to Internet access at all. There are costs to such matters and they will be paid in one fashion or another by someone. Far better that they are paid for by the individuals making use of the service than to contribute to the overall tax burden.
I fully support the development of such networks, and as a resident of the minneapolis area I welcome this development, but it should not be another government program.

Re:I'm sorry sir, breathing the oxygen is extra. (1, Insightful)

Leontes (653331) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212339)

I personally find your comment to be distressing and pessimistic. I feel that the overall goal of having open internet capabilities for all people (and the hardware to do so) has the potential to help people live more productive lives, by aiding in information acquisition and use. By forcing people to pay for a city wide tool such as this, it becomes just another perk for the rich and wealthy to maintain the status quo. Obviously the money for such a project must come from somewhere, and making it a subscription based service initially to cover those costs makes sense, but I should hope that when the infrastructure is paid for maintenance will be from taxes and access would be universal.

Re:I'm sorry sir, breathing the oxygen is extra. (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212405)

Lets replace a word here shall we?

I personally find your comment to be distressing and pessimistic. I feel that the overall goal of having open Cable TV capabilities for all people (and the hardware to do so) has the potential to help people live more productive lives, by aiding in information acquisition and use.

I personally find your comment to be distressing and pessimistic. I feel that the overall goal of having open Longdistance Telephone capabilities for all people (and the hardware to do so) has the potential to help people live more productive lives, by aiding in information acquisition and use.

I personally find your comment to be distressing and pessimistic. I feel that the overall goal of having open Newspaper/Magazine capabilities for all people (and the hardware to do so) has the potential to help people live more productive lives, by aiding in information acquisition and use. I personally find your comment to be distressing and pessimistic. I feel that the overall goal of having open Cell Phone capabilities for all people (and the hardware to do so) has the potential to help people live more productive lives, by aiding in information acquisition and use.

Re:I'm sorry sir, breathing the oxygen is extra. (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212528)

Everyone already has an internet pipe into their house. The phone line. Not good for sucking down your distro of the week, but millions of people get by just fine with dial-up.

(and the hardware to do so)

Free hardware as well? Well, hell....why not just do away with personal income, and just give it all to the govt. They can then distribute everything we need to us.

Re:I'm sorry sir, breathing the oxygen is extra. (5, Funny)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212229)

I look forward to the time in the not so distant future where wireless internet access is considered an inherent right.

Yes and free food, and free homes, and free clothing, and free TV, and free video rentals, and free pot (like what you've been smoking) and free computers and free cars... yippee this is fun.

Every cop car? (4, Interesting)

imbroken3a (862091) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212141)

So if every cop car is linked, couldn't you find a way to track the location of each car and then use that to plan a crime? Or see that there are no cars on the road, so you can speed as fast as you want.

Re:Every cop car? (2, Insightful)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212272)

Or see that there are no cars on the road, so you can speed as fast as you want.
You mean like what people use RADAR detectors for?

I'm sure there will be patrol cars "running silent" every so often to shake things up. Most criminals aren't that tech-saavy. The ones that are, are already tracking cars through means of scanners and taking note of when cops go by usually.

In fact, if data communicated to and from patrol cars in encrypted, you might know if a cop is coming, but, unlike radio and a scanner, you wouldn't know if they are responding to a report of you commiting a crime (in which you need to get out immediately), or just driving by (in which case you just have to hide).

Re:Every cop car? (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212283)

So if every cop car is linked, couldn't you find a way to track the location of each car and then use that to plan a crime? Or see that there are no cars on the road, so you can speed as fast as you want.

Sounds like somebody has some inside information about Google's next new service. Now there is absolutely no doubt they're evil (smirk).

Re:Every cop car? (2, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212325)

You can already plan the location for your crimes to ensure no police presence simply by making sure the target has no donut shops within a 5 block radius.

Re:Every cop car? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212335)

... ... ...

you think they are not "connected" right now?

Re:Every cop car? (4, Informative)

giantsfan89 (536448) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212539)

Lots of cop cars are already linked via wireless. They just don't use 802.x. The one's I've seen use wireless modems, which connect at a LOT lower frequency, and also have a greater range. I used to repair laptops used in this capacity, and I was given a little demo by an officer I know (no, I wasn't being hauled off in handcuffs). The radios combined with GPS make for a very efficient tracking system of cars, especially for dispatch.

Well (1)

Robotron23 (832528) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212150)

Tech orientated schemes like this are often privately funded, which is odd considering the supposedly vast benefits. It suggests to me a skepticism regarding new technology among local councils, but then they have only a limited amount of butter to spread around as it were.

On the other hand, when does a police car radio ever cease working in densely populated areas for example? Officials might just view wireless as a "it isn't broke, we won't fix it, but you can" scheme.

a Personal Telco (4, Interesting)

tomwhore (10233) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212162)

Want to empower your citizens or simply want to sell them to the highest bidder?

Sure this simplifies the question, but some solutions ( http://www.personaltelco.net ) work with all the parts of a community ( citizens, biz owners, etc) to create the power to empower, not simply the muni blessed right to make more montly bill paying consumers.

The real question is , what works for your community. In places where there is not a grass roots DIY mindset then the AOLization method might indeed be the way to go, for communities that can raise the populace to action though....oh thereis so much more to be done.

Come to Portland, see the results in progress.

-tom

Using Tropos like Chaska? (1)

deanpole (185240) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212175)

I know Chaska Minnesota [chaska.net] does this with wireless gear from Tropos Networks [tropos.com] . Are they supplying Minneapolis too?

Re:Using Tropos like Chaska? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212231)

RTFA, they are taking bids for the network to be installed. That also means that the people placing the bids will be deciding what equipment will be used since they will also be running it afterwards.

Why is this considered good? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212185)

Great, and when all of the cities have municipal wi-fi, the Fed will step in and give them 20 percent federal grants provided they pipe their data direct to the NSA. After all, we all want city inspectors to be able to access all our files from their laptops when they come over for an inspection. With e-filing, imagine the ability they are going to have to instantly file tickets, etc. Webcams on every corner, with facial recognition and full databasing, and no wires to cut. Muni Wi-Fi? Yeech! Someone throw a wooden shoe into these works.

Re:Why is this considered good? (2, Interesting)

dekemoose (699264) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212310)

Why would you think that the cities will do this and currently AT&T,MCI,Level3, etc. wouldn't or don't do this? Do you think that they value your privacy so much they wouldn't comply with such an order?

If the NSA wants your data, they're going to get it. A network such as this makes that no more or less likely.

Take your tinfoil hat off at the door.

what was the name of that movie? (1)

manifoldronin (827401) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212191)

the stupid one in which a private company runs "San Angeles", where Taco Bell is the only approved restaurant?

Re:what was the name of that movie? (0)

evolutionaryLawyer (838264) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212317)

Demolition Man, Stalone and Snipes, Bullock

Re:what was the name of that movie? (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212431)

The Demolition Man [scifilm.org]

Re:what was the name of that movie? (1)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212541)

demolition man
referenced in an episode of futurama
http://www.gotfuturama.com/Information/Capsules/3A CV09/ [gotfuturama.com]

wonder if benders antenna is for city wide wifi...
it looks about the right sort of size

Do I get a discount? (-1, Offtopic)

MrP-(at work) (839979) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212193)

My free mac mini shipped yesterday and will arrive Thursday. Do I get a discount on Tiger?

(actually i might just sell it on eBay then re-buy it + some uprades directly from apple.com)

Re:Do I get a discount? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212375)

Ham! [penny-arcade.com]

Nice pricing (2, Interesting)

tyates (869064) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212194)

This is the phone & cable companies worst nightmare - they spend billions building their networks and somebody can now undercut their costs with $99 wireless access points and antennae. I think Qwest DSL costs $40-50 in Minneapolis - 2x as much. Still, competition is good - maybe phone & cable companies will step up and we'll see the type of residential speeds that they already have in Korea and Japan here in the US in a few years.

Re:Nice pricing (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212589)

More than likely this wireless will be more equivalent to Dial-up accounts. Mainly due to pingtimes and low transfer speeds at week signal strengths. You aren't going to game or download massive ammounts off of this system.

Woah... Newark, Free City (1)

displague (4438) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212213)

With all these cities going wireless, I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing cases of the black shakes.

This is so bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212222)

It's depressing that so many people are going for this. Forget about privacy; the government will own your packets. No wonder they stopped funding Carnivore. Besides, can you say fascism? Who awards the contract to exclusively provide service over a given area? And when the government gets in the "business" of providing Internet access, that's basically your justification for an Internet Tax right there.

At best, "municipal wi-fi" is typical corporatistic corruption, local officials payin' off their Telecom buddies with juicy contracts. At worst, it's a back door for all kinds of government abuses.

Re:This is so bad. (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212557)

Not to mention it will drive out the private sector, since noone will be able to compete with free or taxpayer subsidized service. So residents will be stuck with one option, the government provided service. And government provided services fucking suck.

I've worked with enough city IT departments to know that they are not the assclowns I want to be acting as my ISP, just out of sheer incompetence.

Another City Going Wireless story... (1, Troll)

0kComputer (872064) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212233)

Is it really necessary to post a story on the front page everytime a new city thinks about going "wireless"? Must be a slow news day or something.

colorado [slashdot.org]
New Mexico [slashdot.org]
Chicago [slashdot.org]
Texas [slashdot.org]
Oakland County [slashdot.org]
philly [slashdot.org]
Dayton [slashdot.org]

Wait a second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212247)

Corpus Christi Texas, my home town, Is already implementing this.

As far as I know, we are the first for the entire city to be covered.

Or so I heard at the National Wireless Convention that was held here at Holiday Inn.

"First phase of 147 square mile project for
automated meter reading, public works, police and fire use"

http://www.tropos.com/company/releases/2004_07_2 8. shtml

Go, TAMUCC **woohoo Islanders**

Signal Strength Problems (1, Funny)

justanyone (308934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212251)


I can foresee signal strength problems due to:
* snow
* swarming hordes of rampaging mosquitoes

Ever hear the joke: "Perhaps there's a reason the wind is always blowing north in Iowa... Minnesota sucks!"

BTW: I'm a former Edina MN and St. Anthony MN resident; It's a GREAT place to live! But, you've got to wear a durable environment suit in the summer early evening due to the large mosquitoe population (Land of 10,000 lakes makes for lots of stagnant breeding grounds).

Living there, I quickly learned that most people just don't go outside near sunset in the summer. It's not smart. Breathe too deeply and you'll choke on the swarms. The state needs to start an aggressive Bat breeding program [batcon.org] to give the skeeter population a natural check besides insecticide. But, there's all sorts of misconceptions about bats, so that'll probably never happen. Alas...

Or, they could put Bat Houses on the same poles as the Wireless antennae and try to solve 2 problems at once!

Re:Signal Strength Problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212735)

due to the large mosquitoe population

Mosquitoe?

You obviously didn't go to school in Edina.

/paging Dan Quayle...

zerg (3, Interesting)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212295)

Didn't Popular Science just claim that Minneapolis [popsci.com] is America's most technologically advanced city? Seems like citywide wireless access would be a piece of cake for these guys...

Bad deal (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212347)

If government is going to proved a service (roads, parks, network, etc...) to the people, I think it should be available to everyone and paid for by taxes. Charging individuals for use is like going into business. Governments should not be in business. In a case like this, I can see the anti-competetive arguments from broadband providers making a lot of sense.

Provide it free and open with our tax dollars or not at all.

Re:Bad deal (1)

e2ka (708498) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212725)

Free .... with our tax dollars != free

And you would rather have no network than have a privately owned one? Where are you from, comrade?

From reading the article, you see that they don't plan on using tax dollars for it. They are making a proposal for some company to come and build this. The city will offer permission to use its space (on top of light poles, for example), the company will build the network and charge the users, one of whom will be the city government.

I think it is a great plan, and I'm looking forward to see if it works out.

Re:Bad deal (1)

SuperQ (431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212795)

RTFA, this is a RFP for a company to build out an infrastructure, similar to ricochet, but with no proprietary spectrum.

Interesting. (1)

u16084 (832406) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212352)

My Town was getting ready to offer the same service till Time Warner Cable stepped in bullied the town. Stating if the city launches the service TWC will launch their own service and treat them as a competitor... So what? Isnt that a good thing? TWC not only a media outlet... but their broadband service controls thet street lights in our city... oh crap off topic... kill me later.

Security? (1)

pherthyl (445706) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212402)

I wonder how they're planning on securing this. Methinks it's just a matter of time before someone finds a way to use the network for free. I mean, we've heard [slashdot.org] that its not too hard to crack WEP, so how are they going to make sure people don't freeload on this service?

Linking every police car ? (1)

BESTouff (531293) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212453)

I bet if they link every police car, we now have a perfect police-car detector. Cheap, fast, reliable. Just rename Netstumbler as Copstumbler ?

I live in Mpls - they will screw it up! (2, Insightful)

gone.fishing (213219) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212456)

I live in Minneapolis and have to say that I believe that they will find a way to royally mess this up.

On one hand, I see the benefits of it - I even think it may have far reaching benefits (like raising property values). On the other hand, we are Murderopolis and the money should go to fighting crime.

In a strange way, wireless may actually help with things like crime rates. No, I am not kidding! The city needs to attract business and people back into the city. Offering this inexpensive, quality service is one way of doing just that. More jobs = less despair = less crime.

I live in the North side of Minneapolis which is where much of the crime exists. It is in parts very bad, the gangs have control. When the gas company goes on service calls into these areas, they frequently hire off-duty police officers for security! There are quite a few empty or underutilized commercial buildings and several large areas where commercial businesses were tore down and are now just empty lots. Still businesses would be crazy to relocate here. They would be robbed, their employees harrassed and their property vandalized.

If wireless comes to Minneapolis, I would hope that it would hit the North side first. It would be an incentive to bring people and business in.

But the city won't work that way. North will be last.

Meanwhile, the cable company will slowly quit providing amazing broadband service since the few remaining subscribers won't justify the cost of upgrading equipment. Here, North Minneapolis will be the first to be cut back.

I'm screwed.

Re:I live in Mpls - they will screw it up! (3, Informative)

SuperQ (431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212863)

Actualy, I have met with the people in charge of this project. They want the whole system rolled out at once, as fast as possible to cover all areas, without gaps.

This isn't municipal broadband either, it's commercial wireless, but the city wants "shared governance" to keep the wireless company in check, and so they have a say in the coverage (to prevent the problems you talk about) Basicaly they are trying to avoid another ricochet, network hardware all over town rusting because they went under.

I live in Saint Paul, and we're trying to do something similar, although we're about 6 months behind minneapolis.

NEWS FLASH: guy down the street to go wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212519)

Who really cares? this is as important as the nimrod in the corner house getting an accesspoint.

call me when it's 100% open and free. Oh and not something that us in the community free wireless access have been doing for years now.

are we goingto get starbucks store opening news stories also???

how about important news like SPLACK project has released a beta of their 10.0 distro of slackware for SUN hardware? An old ultrasparc5 makes today's p4 look like a complete joke and can be had for dirt.

Double Dipping (0)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212604)

Seeing as how everyone in the city is paying for it already, charging $18-$24 a month for service is utterly bogus in my mind. When you figure that the current population of Minneapolis is 382,618 you figure each tax paying citizen has forked over atleast $52.27 of the 20mil cost and what do they get? The ability to pay for wireless service. It's freakin wireless! Why not make it free use they already paid for it?!?!? Do they make the citizens pay to drive down the streets too?

While I was against Verizon and others from trying to make it illegal for municipalities to offer wifi, but in this case, it should be illegal. Minneapolis would be doing nothing here but trying to be a publicly funded teleco service.

This is plain wrong. If municipalities want to put in their own wifi, let them if they make it freely available for all to use. Just because it's technology does not mean it should be treated differently than any other public works project such as roads and parks which are built and maintained on taxpayer dollars and can be enjoyed by all for free.

Re:Double Dipping (1)

eggboard (315140) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212773)

You didn't read the article only the summary. No city money is going into it. The city is just granting access to allow a private company to offer the service. They're providing utility services via an RFP and will purchase services from whatever company builds the network.

Re:Double Dipping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212811)

$20 mil would be to set it up city-wide. However, they'd need to maintain the network, hire admins and support people, and cover the cost of upgrades.

Blocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212607)

Anyone have a mirror or can post the text? I got to read the first page and then it went to a "registration required" for page 2 and now just going back to page 1.

So much for competition.... (1)

acoustix (123925) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212669)

This will absolutely destroy the small wireless ISPs in that area. Governments should not be involved in providing NONESENTIAL services when the private sector can provide them.

This is all starting to sound very familiar. What kind of economic policies are we supposed to be creating: capitalist or communist?

-Nick

Re:So much for competition.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212745)

RTFA. This project is requesting proposals from private contractors. There's nothing suggesting that pre-existing WISPs would be excluded from putting together a proposal.

Sounds expensive (1)

max born (739948) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212748)

$15-$20 million AND you have to pay monthly?

Let's suppose you buy 400 top of the line $500 access points from some wf-fi company [demarctech.com] . That's only $200,0000.

They should hold back on the fiber and use the access points to relay to a few key wired points like sflan [sflan.org] does. Cuts down on the cost.
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