Free Internet access now available throughout Minneapolis

In its continuing efforts to bridge the digital divide, the City of Minneapolis announced on Friday, June 25 that residents and visitors will now be able to access the Internet for free from 117 "Wireless Minneapolis" hotspots throughout the city. These hotspots are one of the many community benefits that resulted from the City of Minneapolis’ contract with USI Wireless, the company that built the wireless network blanketing the entire city.

When connected to one of these hotspots, folks will be able access any website on the Internet for up to one hour. After one hour, a user’s session will end; however, the user can log-in again to continue accessing the Internet. A credit card number will be required to access the Internet from a "Wireless Minneapolis" hotspot for homeland security purposes but the credit card will not be charged.

In selecting the locations for the 117 "Wireless Minneapolis" hotspots, the City looked for places where people already gather and use computers, and places where free wireless access would encourage people to gather, including parks, plazas, schools, and businesses. Hotspots will be clearly marked with signs that say, "Free Wireless Minneapolis Hotspot Courtesy: City of Minneapolis USI Wireless." The free wireless signal will be available up to 600 feet from the sign.  

In addition to the 117 hotspots, the City of Minneapolis and USI Wireless also offer free "Wireless Community" accounts to nonprofit organizations that provide free computer access to the public, and an online "Civic Garden" that provides a free level of service for anyone who can receive the USI Wireless signal. The Civic Garden offers free access to a wealth of public sector information about government, education, and community services.

In 2006 the City of Minneapolis signed a 10-year contract with USI Wireless of Minnetonka to provide Minneapolis with cutting-edge broadband technology. USI Wireless is a private company that owns, built and manages the wireless network, making Minneapolis one of the first large cities in the United States to go wireless. The network is allowing the City to deliver services more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

Published Jun 25, 2010