Star Tribune on Muni WiFi: FUD or Just Wrong?

The Strib’s Steve Alexander is on a Muni-WiFi bashing kick. In Sunday’s Slowdown in the Fast Lane, the angle was how the forthcoming Minneapolis muni-WiFi will make the current cable and DSL offerings look paltry and non-competitive. Oh – and we don’t get the maximum bandwidth out of our current pipes anyway. Really? Muni-WiFi isn’t going to change that.

In fact, I’m not planning to drop my existing offering for the $20/mn muni plan anytime soon. WiFi transfer rates don’t scale well. If anything, the muni plan is a cheap insurance policy – something we can check email on while the main line is uploading podcasts or the weekly backup.

Then today there’s this gem in the sidebar;

“A special wireless modem needed to gain access…”

But that’s it. No information on what “special” means. If it means 802.11b or 802.11g (i.e. what you already have) then yes Bill, that’s just bad reporting.

I expect so much from our dailies. Maybe I’d be happier if I started thinking of them like soap operas – quantity over quality.

3 Replies to “Star Tribune on Muni WiFi: FUD or Just Wrong?”

  1. Crossposted to MNspeak…

    From someone at city hall who did some legwork for me on this issue: “If you have a wireless card, it will be compatible. For home use, if you have a wireless card you’re good to go. If you have nothing, you will need to buy a modem.”

    I also reviewed some PDFs that were exchanged between US Internet and the City and they never fully explain it… just that US Internet can provide wireless equipment to customers on a buy or lease basis.

    They are “talking about it in committee right now.” (3:35pm)

    -Aaron

  2. I agree about the transfer rate thing. I’ve got 4 computers at home that use wireless as their primary internet connection and it’s amazing how crappy the speed can get when they are all active.

    Unfortunately, at $20 the muni wifi is also expensive as an insurance policy. I’ve been using my cellphone as my backup connection for several years by cable or bluetooth. I’ve never paid more than $10/mo for unlimited data and it works anywhere I get reception, not just in one city. It’s not lightning fast, but, like you said, for email, etc. it gets the job done.

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