Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wireless Minneapolis

I called in yesterday about Wireless Minneapolis service provided by USI Wireless. The 6mbps service has been dropped for now, no one can really get that fast of a connection. The focus is more on getting full coverage of the city, getting subscribers, then worrying about increasing the speed. That makes sense, as they'd be under the gun to provide full coverage, period, for city use in police cars, and the like. Its easy to see how other muni wifi projects fail, there is so much you don't know about wifi coverage and performance until you start hooking things up. I was in downtown yesterday can coverage at the Chipotle was spotty using the touch, but USI does caution that beefier antennas will offer the best experience, however, that isn't an option on such small devices. Then again, you'd have to double the number of access points to provide service to those gadgets anyway, which would be too expensive, at least right away.

I'm holding off on ordering service until it hits my home. The roaming service is good, but too small of an area.


Joe Caldwell CEO USIW said...

We are currently offering 6MB of service, however you do need to live very close to a node and use the ruckus wireless modem in order to go that fast

Bjorn said...

Here's hoping I'm close to a node! I am extremely, extremely excited to start using this service. Sure, it's as simple as playing another large company for the same service, but this is the ground floor of a new era. If the stumbling blocks are cleared, and adoption high, this could be as important as introducing cell phones to a large market, or the switch from dial up to broadband.

Chris Schommer said...

lots of people seem to be stumbling on big projects like this. I just read this today:

I hope they figure out the best way to make this work! Do we have to wait for WIMAX before things get worked out?

Bjorn said...

WiMAX is the answer. USIW had to double their APs to account for all of the trees in the city. Of course, you get the best speed when using the Ruckus modems, but where people will want to use the roaming service will be on iPhones, iPod Touches, other new wifi gadgets which can't take advantage of those add on modems.

Brady said...

USI has been working out very well for me just on my internal laptop wifi in my house..especially on the 2nd floor where I have "5 bars." I get 3 or 4 bars and good througput on the main floor. I just a ruckus modem and am going to try that too. I think it's a great value at $20/month for the 1 meg service. I get consistently fast speed.

Nathan said...

I'm on the 3 Mbps contract for 2 years. The price was certainly right, but the service is not. 2 months in and I'm STILL struggling to maintain a connection speed even close to what I ordered.

The latest call to tech support told me that they had given me an inadequate antenna for my stucco house and location and would bring a new one out for $50. $50 to get the service I ordered and paid in advance for in the first place.

No big surprise, the tech arrived and didn't have any other antenna, he just tried the same stuff I tried. he positioned the old antenna out on my porch where I have to leave my wireless router and equipment now (susceptible to theft and in the way). It worked well there for exactly 1 day. Now my speeds are back below 1 Mbps if I have a connection at all.

I'm calling back to get the better antenna again, I'm sure it will cost me another $50. I guess you get what you pay for.

Nathan said...

Back to update from my last post.

I finally stumbled on the right tech support person at USI (props to Cory). I've got the right antenna for the ruckus modem, got a 50 foot eithernet cable to move my wireless router far away from the ruckus and learned how to lock into the best access points for home use as well as switch APs when one goes down.

It took several months, but I finally got enough customer support out of USI that I'm consistently pulling about 2.5 Mbps at home. (Bjorn's point still stands for the roaming crowd).

It also bears mentioning that USI eventually refunded me for the months of bad/no service and the $50 service fee... a classy move on their part, just too bad it took so long.

Bjorn said...

That's great you got things figured out. Unfortunatly, I still have no service where my apartment was, and I just closed on a house in St Paul. Thanks for the update though, here's hoping St Paul's fiber option kicks in in a few years!