A cheaper Internet option

Paying too much for Internet? Minneapolis Wi-Fi might help.

As we head back to school, we start to take care of those basic necessities that make life bearable: fill the pantry full of macaroni and cheese, buy cheap furniture from Ikea, and most importantly of all, set up Internet access.

For Minneapolis residents, Comcast holds a firm grip on the high-speed Internet market, and its monthly prices can be more than $40. For the penny-pinching college student this can be an intimidating number.

Thankfully, the city of Minneapolis has come to our rescue. This year marks the beginning of the new citywide Wi-Fi network which will allow all citizens to access wireless Internet around the city for a fee.

Minneapolis has embarked on an ambitious mission to make the city truly friendly to 21st-century technology. In collaboration with USI Wireless, Minneapolis intended to improve communications and connectivity for emergency personnel and other government services, and to also provide cheaper, convenient Internet to the people of Minneapolis.

Beginning earlier this year, wireless service was offered in the downtown area, and it is slowly being expanded to cover the entire city by the end of 2007. If you live on or near the West Bank or in the Seward neighborhood, you should be able to connect now. If you live on the East Bank or in Dinkytown, Wi-Fi is scheduled to be available by the end of November.

There are two main benefits to the citywide Wi-Fi network. First of all, it is more affordable than many other Internet options. Plans begin at $20 per month. Secondly, for those with laptops, signing up for the Wi-Fi access enables you to surf the Web anywhere in Minneapolis. Most wireless cards can pick up the Wi-Fi signal, but special hardware can also be rented from USI Wireless if necessary.

For the money-conscious individuals out there, it might be worth investigating this new technology. Being on the cutting edge has never been so affordable.