St. Paul, Minnesota considers citywide Wi-Fi

This should not be a big surprise given that Minneapolis is about to choose a provider for their citywide network, and communities such as Chaska and Moorhead already have one. St. Paul has commissioned a study to determine whether it should deploy one and what form it should take. According to a Twincities.com article, the study will be completed in This should not be a big surprise given that Minneapolis is about to choose a provider for their citywide network, and communities such as Chaska and Moorhead already have one. St. Paul has commissioned a study to determine whether it should deploy one and what form it should take. According to a Twincities.com article, the study will be completed in April 2006. The article also says that the municipality owns the light poles so it can grant a wireless provider the right to mount access points for citywide coverage.

It’s taken a year for St. Paul to get its act together on this one. I wrote an article dated 20 January 2005 (click here): “Now, St. Paul is trying to catch up to Minneapolis, which is reported to be far ahead in plans to create a citywide Wi-Fi network. The St. Paul city council is researching the possibility of working with Minneapolis on creating a Twin Cities network. The city council staff will present its report in April.”

As in April 2005!

Comments

  1. Neither the article nor the city’s representatives made any reference to granting a wireless provider the right to mount access points. They simply said that the city does own these assets. Similarly, WiFiNetnews reports that the article says this makes it easier for them to franchise than Minneapolis. The city has not made any decision yet about whether the network will be publicly or privately owned, franchised or otherwise. Which leads me to my second point:

    Saint Paul hasn’t taken a year to “get its act together”, it’s taken a year to do things right. The report you referred to in January 2005 was completed in April 2005, as planned. City staff did a nice job.
    http://www.stpaul.gov/depts/ot/wifi.html

    The study now being done is an avaluation of current infrastructure and a needs assessment. Input will be sought from Saint Paul residents, businesses, and higher ed. institutions. It will consider the full array of technological and ownership/management options. The final product will include 3 recommendations for how the city should proceed. (CM Dave Thune asked the consultant to make sure the final report also explains which options are not recommended and why.)

    Far from trying to catch up to Minneapolis, Saint Paul is light years ahead of its neighbor in recognizing that this is a signficant decision with long-term implications for the city. Minneapolis, on the other hand, did barely a cursory assessment of ownership options and did not seek input from residents (and possibly not even the business community, I’ve recently found).

    Craig Settle’s 10 questions for San Francisco is just as apt for Minneapolis.
    http://muniwireless.com/municipal/991

    Only a small number of larger U.S. cities are actively moving forward in this area, and fewer still are doing so in a way that considers the long term goals of the community. Saint Paul should be applauded, not derided, for acting with all deliberate speed.