Wireless problems will be worth it

Other cities are experiencing problems with their existing wireless infrastructures.

Minneapolis is moving ahead with plans to complete a citywide wireless Internet infrastructure by November. This will undoubtedly be a bridge for the information gap by allowing lower-income residents of the city affordable access to the Web. Students living off campus will have a new option for their online service provider. The convenience of connecting anywhere and the $20-per-month fee are very appealing.

Although the Minneapolis network is guided by a private-public agreement, public-public systems implemented in other cities such as Portland, Ore., and Moorhead, Minn., show that citywide wireless infrastructures don’t always work as smoothly as they were originally promised. Many cities are struggling to get enough people to sign up for their wireless programs. Problems with connection speeds and transmitters are also common. It has proved to be a learning experience for cities, Internet service providers and users – and often a costly one.

The University already has a wireless network that many students find invaluable while they are on campus. However, high numbers of users in concentrated areas can slow down its speed and accessibility. There are areas around campus that the wireless signal doesn’t reach, especially outdoors.

Although the University plans to upgrade its wireless system soon, one can only wonder how Minneapolis’ wireless system will work under the same conditions. Minneapolis and US Internet have been testing the signal in the Seward neighborhood and plan to spread it throughout the city by the end of the year.

It is easy to predict that there will be some problems with the wireless infrastructure when it is fully implemented. Still, Minneapolis residents should be excited to be living in a city where citywide wireless is available and affordable for all.